Neukölln true crime story

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On our last episode we interviewed 4 Blocks writer Hanno Hackford about the fictional Arabic gangs depicted in the TV series. The show is based on real stories of gang violence. Here’s one we found in last week’s newspaper showing that fiction isn’t far from fact:

Berliner Zeitung – May 18, 2017

Beaten to death: masked attackers kill a family father. Background: a fight between two Arabic clans over €100,000 euros.

Ali O. left his three-storey house in Britz at At 7.55am. Two masked men hit him with fists and a baseball bat in the head. They struck until he lay motionless on the ground. Many witnesses saw the attack, including a child who stood close by.
The attackers fled into bushes. They must have been spying on the 43-year old, as they knew when he would be leaving the house to take his child to school.
In the neighbourhood rumours are going around about a fight between two criminal members of Arabic Großfamilien – or clans. Police will not confirm the suspicions.
It is speculated that Ali O. had given a loan of €100,000 euro to Family R., who were not prepared to pay the money back. The situation escalated. Possibly the debtors had wanted to give Ali a lesson, but not kill him. Many in Family R. now fear a deadly payback from Family O.
“I fear for my life,” said one person. “This could cause a family slaughter. Such things have happened before.”
The man who borrowed the money often caused problems for his brothers. In the past there were frequent bloody disputes between the clans, often ending in murder.
Ali. O was described as quiet and friendly man who moved to the area after separating from his wife, with whom he has three children. But he wasn’t nice to everyone. In summer, Ali. O had sprayed teargas inside a doctor’s office in Leinestraße after arguing with another patient.

Source: Berliner Zeitung

Cafe Filou Stays – Investor Renews Contract

By Joel Dullroy, Radio Spaetkauf

Kreuzberg bakery Cafe Filou has been spared from eviction after the property’s owner agreed to renew the contract. British investor Charles Skinner told Radio Spaetkauf he had experienced a change of heart following talks with retiring Green party politician Hans-Christian Ströbele.

“In the end we saw reason, Mr. Skinner said. “A lot of mistakes have been made along the way, not just by us but from them, from everybody. I think there’s going to be a good coming together.”

Mr. Skinner said he would now work with Mr. Ströbele to create a fair commercial property contract to give business tenants an automatic renewal. While residential property leases in Berlin are well protected by law, commercial leases remain vulnerable.

“It’s not a financial thing, it’s a moral thing… I would like to design a different kind of contract for commercial properties whereby they get an automatic renewal rather than something that just goes down to zero, and people like me can just say ‘no’,” Mr. Skinner said.

Cafe Filou co-owner Nadja Wagner confirmed that they had received a verbal agreement from Mr. Skinner that the contract would be renewed. While the details are yet to be finalized, Ms. Wagner said she expected the rent to remain unchanged, and the contract to be valid for several years with extension options.

“We’re pleased with the outcome,” Ms. Wanger said. “It is only because of the support of the neighbourhood that we have been able to come so far.”

Mr. Skinner praised the role played by Clare D’Orsay, the operator of Vertikal restaurant, which sits next door to Cafe Filou on Reichenberger Straße, and is also Mr. Skinner’s tenant.

“She was relentless in getting us to keep the Cafe Filou operators,” Mr Skinner said.

Clare D’Orsay spoke on the latest Radio Spaetkauf podcast about the violence and vandalism she had experienced from misguided protesters who had targeted her business due to its proximity to Cafe Filou.

Ms. D’Orsay said she had been spat at, pushed to the ground and had her windows smashed by an organized group for being a foreigner opening a nice looking restaurant in Kreuzberg.

The 32-year old New Yorker moved to Berlin seven years ago and has run other businesses in the neighbourhood. She pointed out that Restaurant Vertikal did not displace any existing business, as the building was recently constructed on an empty corner lot.

Ms. Wagner from Cafe Filou said she hoped the attacks against Vertikal would cease, and that the restaurant would be integrated into the community.

Listen to the full Radio Spaetkauf podcast to hear more:

New Radio Spaetkauf series for RadioEins

Radio Spaetkauf RadioEins Berlin Podcast

Radio Spaetkauf is thrilled to announce the launch of a new podcast series produced together with RadioEins, Berlin’s public broadcaster. Every two weeks we’ll release a short snappy update of local Berlin news headlines. The shows will be released on the RadioEins website and iTunes channels, as well as our own feeds.

The short updates will be fast, entertaining and informative, with a mix of news headlines and our own observations. They are recorded in the RadioEins studio inside Kino Babylon in Mitte, which has great sound quality (and a fantastic green screen backdrop).

In addition, we’ll still be presenting our monthly hour-long live show, recorded at the Comedy Cafe Berlin in Neukölln. The full-length episodes will feature a full cast of hosts and guests with in-depth discussions about local Berlin news.

RadioEins is Berlin’s main public radio station, presenting a mix of current affairs, music, news and entertainment on the FM frequency 95.8, as well as online. RadioEins is part of the RBB (Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg) network.

The partnership with RadioEins comes is perfectly timed. November 2016 marks Radio Spaetkauf’s fifth anniversary. The show is now presented by a cast including Joel Dullroy, Maisie Hitchcock, Daniel Stern and Jöran Mandik.

On this first episode for RadioEins, Joel and Dan talk about how Berlin’s new “red-red-green” coalition between the SPD, Die Grünen and Die Linke plan to change the city. Their coalition talks include closing Unter den Linden to most vehicle traffic, and building several new tram lines across the city. The incoming coalition also plans to end the crackdown on marijuana in Görlitzer Park, and perhaps even introduce legal medical weed apothekes.

This first RadioEins Radio Spaetkauf short features a brand new set of jingles created by Berlin electronic duo Ducks!, made up of Lani Bagley and Craig Schuftan. You’ll be hearing more of their sounds across future episodes.

To hear more local news, and to help us celebrate both our partnership with RadioEins and our 5th anniversary, come along to the next live recording of the hour-long Radio Spaetkauf monthly show on Sunday November 20, 6pm, at the Comedy Cafe Berlin on Weserstraße, Neukölln.

Here’s the first show…

Who to vote for in Berlin?

By Joel Dullroy, Radio Spaetkauf

Berliners will go to the polls to vote for their local councils and the city-state government on Sunday September 18 2016. Who should you vote for – if you can vote? Radio Spaetkauf decodes the parties and their programmes for you:

WHO CAN VOTE?

If you’re a European Union citizen and have registered your address with the Bürgeramt, you are eligible to vote – but only at the very local level, which is called the Bezirks-Verordneten-Versammlung, or BVV or short. You should have received a letter in the mail informing you of your polling station. If you didn’t get a letter, you aren’t registered and can’t vote.

You get one vote, and you can give it to one party. Each party has lists of candidates who are given seats depending on what percentage of votes they win. There are no independents in the BVV system. These local councils decide on street-level issues. Most importantly, they can decide whether to declare an area as a “Milieuschütgebeit”, which creates extra restrictions over housing policy – which is good for renters.

Not sure who to vote for? If you’re worried about your rent going up, check if the party supports more Milieuschützgebeit and rent controls. This is the most effective thing you can do with your local vote.

WHO IS PROMISING WHAT?

Here’s a run-down on the main parties and what they stand for, in order of how they’re currently polling:

SPD
Latest poll: 22% (down from 28%).
Leader: Michael Müller.
About: In power in Berlin for the past 27 years, as major coalition partner for the past 15. Oversaw (or overlooked) the BER disaster.
For: More investment in education, free lunches at schools, and free kindergartens.
Against: Spaetkaufs opening on Sundays, legal cannabis.

CDU
Leader: Frank Henkel.
Latest poll: 18% (down from 23% at last election).
About: Have been in coalition with the SPD since 2011. Got tough on protesters, squatters and drug dealers.
For: More police, more video cameras, using police in evictions.
Against: Gay marriage, burquas, streets named after Karl Marx.

BÜNDIS 90 / DIE GRÜNEN (THE GREENS)
Latest poll: 18% (17.6% at last election).
Leaders: Ramona Pop and Antje Kapek.
About: The only party to fully back the goals of the Volksentscheid Fahrrad (bicycle referendum).
For: Spaetkaufs open on Sundays, legalizing cannabis and same-sex marriage, body-cams on police.
Against: The A100 highway through Treptow/Friedrichshain.

DIE LINKE
Latest poll: 14% (17.6% at last election).
Leaders: Klaus Lederer.
About: Were part of the ruling coalition in the 2000s with Klaus Wowereit’s SPD.
For: Tougher rent controls, free kindergartens, legalizing cannabis and same sex marriage.
Against: Spaetkaufs opening on Sundays.

AFD
Latest poll: 14% (didn’t exist at last election).
Leaders: Georg Pazderski.
About: Nationalists, xenophobes, homophobes.
For: Border controls, less migration and refugees, zero tolerance on crime.
Against: Immigrants, non-traditional families, the TV tax.

FDP
Latest poll: 5% (1.8% at last election).
Leaders: Sebastian Czaja.
About: Trying to make a come-back after being destroyed at the last election.
For: Keeping Tegel airport open, building the A100 highway, English as a second bureaucratic language.
Against: The AirBnB crackdown, most regulation and taxes, investment in social housing.

DIE PIRATEN
Latest poll: Less than 3% (8.9% at last election).
Leaders: Bruno Kramm.
About: Were very effective in asking lots of questions in parliament and documenting the BER disaster.
For: Free public internet across Berlin, pilot project for unconditional basic income, free public transport.
Against: The A100 highway, video surveillance, the BER airport company.

OTHERS TO MENTION…

  • DIE PARTEI: A joke party that occasionally makes some prescient social points. Have already booked SO36 for their victory party.
  • BERGPARTEI: Another joke party, originally formed to build a mountain in Berlin.
  • DKP: The Communist party, promising lower rents and higher wages.
  • NPD: Almost Nazis. Germany’s main far-right party, before the AFD came along.
  • BÜRGERBEWEGUNG: Another right-wing party trying to trick voters with love hearts.

STILL NOT SURE WHO TO VOTE FOR?

Try using the Wahl-O-Mat website.

SO WHO IS GOING TO WIN?

The most likely outcome is a coalition between the SPD, Die Linke and Die Grünen. The CDU wants to stay in power in coalition with the SPD, but Michael Müller has said he’d prefer to share power with the Greens. At the last election, a potential SPD/Greens coalition failed to materialise because of disputes over the A100 highway. Those still exist, but the parties seem willing to work through it this time around. But the polls are close, and almost 30% of voters have told pollsters they are undecided. It’s still anyone’s game.

LEARN MORE:

Listen to the latest episode of Radio Spaetkauf for a full analysis of the election and possible outcomes, with some graphic design critique thrown in:

Refugees build Bureaucrazy app to solve German paperwork problems

bureaucrazy

A team of Syrian refugees in Berlin is building an app to help solve the problem of German paperwork. And it’s not just for refugees – all new arrivals in Germany will benefit from the app, which they’ve called Bureacrazy.

The app will allow a user to enter data in their own language, and prints out forms in German. It also gives tips on required documents and office locations.

It’s amazing no one thought to solve this common problem before. Even more amazing is that the Bureaucrazy team had no software development background before they arrived in Germany.

The app’s creators are Ghaith Zamrik, Munzer Khatt ab, Omar Alshafai and Salim Mohammad, all from Syria. They have arrived in Berlin over the past year after fleeing the war in Syria, and have been living in camps in sports halls and hotels across the city.

As they told Radio Spaetkauf recently:

“We started learning coding here in Berlin with the REDI School of Digital Integration. The best way to learn code is to start building an application,” Ghaith said.

In order to launch Bureaucrazy by January 1, the team now needs more support from professional coders and financial backers. You can contact them through their Facebook page.

Listen to their interview on Radio Spaetkauf here.

  • By Joel Dullroy, Radio Spaetkauf