Befuddled brewers, tardy Tesla and a law just for women... the week in review

A two-minute read

Dear Reader,

With the trees now turning a beautiful golden brown, we don’t want to keep you inside too long. Here’s the best of the past seven days and a look at the week ahead.

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What you might have missed in last week’s news

“I wish I was in Bavaria…” - Thai monarch Maha Vajiralongkorn © imago images / Agencia EFE
  • An amusing spat has broken out between the federal justice and interior ministries over the wording of a draft law. The law on protecting businesses from corona-induced insolvency was drafted by the Justice Ministry using only feminine word endings. Interior Minister Seehofer rebelled, arguing that it could be interpreted in court to only apply to women. The New York Times has the details.

  • Hold onto your seats folks... Germany has formulated a foreign policy position. Long known for its mercantile Außenpolitik (if you’re buying, we’re selling), Berlin brought out the strategy paper entitled “Policy guidelines for the Indo-Pacific region. Germany—Europe—Asia: shaping the 21st century together” last month. It’s been praised by Paris and criticized by Beijing. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has analysed the text.

  • In 2007 Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn discovered the wonders of cycling around the Starnberger See. He now owns a villa on the lake and is spending every more time there. His subjects are less than pleased that their monarch is relaxing abroad and it’s starting to cause a headache for Berlin, as Deutsche Welle reports.

  • Germany has pledged over half a billion dollars to help survivors of the Holocaust get through the corona pandemic. The payments will go to a quarter of a million elderly people, many of whom have health issues dating back to their imprisonment in concentration camps. The Associated Press has more.

  • Tesla is building a mega factory for electric car batteries just outside Berlin (a project we’ll be writing about in the near future.) But they haven’t paid their water bill despite receiving threatening letters, says Euronews. Now their water supply has been switched off.

  • And, if you have five minutes, we heartily endorse this story in a Maine newspaper about a Bavarian brewer who spent four days in the small town of Bangor believing he was in San Francisco. His haplessness turned him into a local celebrity. He reached the height of his fame when he cut the ribbon on a new mall, but then things started to go downhill…

Coming up in the week ahead…

The face of a leader? Norbert Röttgen of the CDU © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)
  • Interested in learning more about the current state of the transatlantic relationship? The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung is holding a debate on it on Monday evening. CDU leadership hopeful Norbert Röttgen, who’s made his name as a foreign policy expert, will be talking to some senior think tank types starting at 6.30 pm. Here’s a link to the live stream.

  • Also on Monday, a trial is starting against eight people suspected of running a Darknet server in a former Bundeswehr bunker. The defendants are accused of facilitating millions of illegal transactions in their underground lair.

  • The Green party are putting on an interesting looking event on Wednesday on freedom of movement in Europe. It’s titled “Grenzenlos frei oder grenzenlos ausgebeutet? Mobile Beschäftigte in Europa.” One would imagine that working conditions for Romanians in German slaughterhouses will be a prominent subject. You can follow the discussion (in German) here.

  • On Friday, Brandenburg’s constitutional court will decide whether it is permissible to pass a law that requires parties to put an equal number of men and women on their electoral lists. It's a hotly anticipated ruling that could prompt changes in other states. We recently reported on the stark sexual inequality in German parliaments.

  • An fascinating exhibition is opening in Cologne on Saturday. The Ludwig Museum will display some 2,000 photos from Austrian Queen Sissi’s private collection. Sissi was quite a character. Revered in her day for her beauty, she was also an independent spirit who had an anchor tattooed on her shoulder.

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Jörg & Axel

Who we are:

Jörg Luyken: Journalist based in Berlin since 2014. His work has been published by German and English outlets including der Spiegel, die Welt, the Daily Telegraph and the Times. Formerly in the Middle East.

Axel Bard Bringéus: Started his career as a journalist for the leading Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet and has spent the last decade in senior roles at Spotify and as a venture capital investor. In Berlin since 2011.