The wolf is at the collar (neue-deutschland.de)

Things are getting serious for the rapidly increasing wolf population in Brandenburg: The government coalition made up of the SPD, CDU and the Greens proposes to the state parliament that the hunt for this strictly protected species of predator should be made easier. According to the application, the shooting of wolves should be possible in the future, even if “the damage caused by livestock tears cannot be assigned to a specific wolf in a pack”. The prerequisite is that the grazing cattle were secured by reasonable herd protection measures and that the permitted shooting of “individual members of a wolf pack” is “closely related to cracks that have already occurred”.

So far it has been extremely difficult to get permission to shoot wolves. The animal owner had to prove that a very specific wolf had overcome all protective measures several times – and a shooting permit was only intended for this one animal. Attempts to capture this wolf alive must have previously failed. CDU parliamentary group leader Jan Redmann said it was becoming more and more difficult to keep the wolves at a distance “when they notice that they have nothing to fear”. Encouraged in this way, they would not only attack sheep, but now also use a pack tactic on calves.

“It’s not about an area-wide launch,” Redmann explained. But the wolf must be oriented so that it feeds in the wild and naturally. At present, the predators are approaching herds that they can easily eat because the cattle cannot escape from them on the fenced pasture. It becomes problematic when the wolf loses its natural fear of people and settlements, said Redmann. He referred to proven pairings of dogs and wolves in Thuringia. “That can be dangerous for humans. We have to prevent that. “

For the Greens, parliamentary group leader Benjamin Raschke assured that his party saw this project “quite relaxed”. With this step, Brandenburg is classified in the development at the federal level. The greens are definitely in favor of good conditions for species-appropriate grazing. In the past, damage from wolves was not suffered by those farmers who have factory-kept livestock in stalls, but often organic farmers with free-range husbandry. The species-appropriate grazing animal husbandry is in a “tension” to the appearance of the wolf, so Benjamin Raschke, but the desired improvement of the wolf management is a good solution.

“The new regulation will, if at all, only lead to the shooting of wolves in exceptional cases,” said MP Thomas Domres (left). It is window dressing if you think you can resolve conflicts by hunting. “That wouldn’t even work with much higher numbers of kills.”

The return of the wolf to Brandenburg has been traceable since 2010. After being exterminated here for a long time, it immigrated again from Poland and spread. There are 128 wolf packs and 35 pairs throughout Germany. Brandenburg is considered the state with the highest population. Last year 47 wolf packs and ten wolf pairs stayed here. From the beginning of January to the end of September they tore a total of 395 sheep, ten goats, 80 cattle and two horses. The state financially supports wolf-proof fences and the purchase of guard dogs. It also pays compensation if none of that helped.

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Observation of the AfD justified (neue-deutschland.de)

The members of the state parliament of the AfD leave the plenary hall during the special session of the state parliament on the corona pandemic.

Photo: dpa | Soeren Stache

Brandenburg’s AfD is taking action against its observation by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution before the State Constitutional Court and the Administrative Court. The party informed about this on Tuesday at a press conference with its legal representative Michael Elicker. The aim is an interim order that for the time being, Interior Minister Michael Stübgen (CDU) forbids reporting on the observation, as well as clarifying the question of whether the AfD Brandenburg should be observed at all. “In both proceedings we expect a positive outcome for us,” it said.

It was announced in June of last year that the state association is being observed as a suspected case of right-wing extremist activities. First of all, the AfD took a look at the files, which is why it took so long until the two complaints were now finished, explained the deputy state chairwoman Birgit Bessin.

The other parties in the state parliament support the observation of the AfD. Left-wing parliamentary group leader Sebastian Walter believes the reason for looking at the AfD is correct. “The AfD statements go far beyond those of the NPD, and the NPD is also being monitored,” Walter said on Tuesday. He sees the appearance of the Brandenburg AfD as a threat to democracy. Referring to the protection of the Constitution was okay, but one could not expect a solution to the problem, said the left-wing parliamentary group leader.

“The AfD is free to take legal action against anything under the rule of law, we are very relaxed about it,” said CDU parliamentary group leader Jan Redmann. “Pretty ridiculous,” said the SPD parliamentary group leader Erik Stohn called the AfD’s request to defend itself legally. “They had the opportunity to cut their contacts with right-wing extremists.” Instead, Brandenburg is experiencing a radicalization of the AfD. Stohn referred to statements made during demonstrations and to “that right-wing extremists go in and out of parliament.” In the meantime, “I would like to know whether the AfD is not also in contact with right-wing terrorists,” said Stohn.

According to Péter Vida of the Free Voters, the observation has been decided by the authorities. “It is not our place to decide politically,” he said. After everything that can be learned from the appearance of the AfD, the assessment seems correct. “Together with the Thuringian regional association, the Brandenburg one is one of the most extreme.”

Although many decision-making bases are based on the person of the former AfD state and parliamentary group leader Andreas Kalbitz, in whom “many strands came together,” said Green parliamentary group leader Benjamin Raschke. But the new AfD leadership is more of a tightening. “My prognosis is that they will not win this lawsuit.”

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Grünheide: Tesla environment under pressure to act (neue-deutschland.de)

Photo: dpa / Patrick Pleul

Less than eight months after the start of construction, large parts of the future factory of the electric car manufacturer Tesla are already in place on the industrial site on the A10 motorway near Grünheide (Oder-Spree). On the other hand, the surrounding cities and municipalities show little how they are preparing for the fact that soon thousands of employees will frequent the new plant in shifts every day, how more and more goods transports are being integrated into the regional transport system and where more people are to find living space.

The speed presented by the US billionaire Elon Musk’s group leaves little doubt that the announced start of production in July can actually take place – if the final building permit is available by then. Since Tesla’s security deposit of 100 million euros is now available, which would flow for the dismantling in the event of failure, the state of Brandenburg will probably agree in the end. The regional infrastructure east and south-east of the capital is not prepared for this.

According to the left in the Oder-Spree district, countermeasures are being taken much too slowly and indecisively. “State and local politics are not keeping up with the pace of Tesla,” said Artur Pech, left-wing parliamentary group leader in the district council, the “nd”. In a position paper in December, the group drew attention to numerous open problems in connection with the Tesla project, with which the surrounding communities and, above all, the people should not be left alone. “It’s about the question of how the affected municipalities can deal with the problems arising from this industrial settlement and what demands they may have to make against the country,” it says. Artur Pech is not fundamentally against the settlement of an investor and certainly not against new jobs. But a capitalist company like Tesla is first and foremost oriented towards profit. Problems in terms of tariff, environmental or local politics are programmed.

In July, the district’s “Tesla Municipal Steering Group” presented a catalog of measures to develop the infrastructure, said Pech. This summarizes the requirements for action which – as it was called at the time – »from the point of view of the municipalities and the district should be given a binding character by the state of Brandenburg«. The state government has not yet responded specifically, said Pech. However, the district does not have inexhaustible means to resolve the conflicts that arise from the Tesla settlement. Since he is dependent on the support of the country. “We will demand solutions for this,” he assured me.

“A concept for the development of the regional environment of the Tesla settlement is expected to be presented in March,” said Katharina Burkardt, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Infrastructure and State Planning, when asked by nd. The ministry agreed to jointly develop this strategic environment concept at the end of May in Fürstenwalde with the joint state planning for Berlin-Brandenburg, the Oder-Spree district and the regional planning community as well as 13 other offices, cities and communities from eastern Brandenburg to the Berlin district of Treptow-Köpenick. For this purpose, as it was said at the time, the challenges for the surrounding cities and municipalities had to be analyzed “in order to derive the necessary measures for settlement development, commercial areas and the infrastructure”. The aim is to use the opportunities for the region and to create suitable living space for the newcomer as well as to clarify questions about accessibility and mobility.

The Ministry of Infrastructure is currently designing a comprehensive planning process in coordination with 22 cities and municipalities from three districts of Brandenburg and the Treptow-Köpenick district, the spokeswoman announced on Tuesday. The focus is above all on the provision of residential and commercial space. »The first results show that at least for the first construction phase of Tesla with 12,000 employees in the region around the plant, there is sufficient building potential and existing real estate available to offer Tesla employees, but also other workers needed in the region, attractive living space Said Burkardt. With an active building land policy of the cities and municipalities within the framework of their municipal planning sovereignty, the long-term adaptation of the further necessary settlement development measures can be advanced in a targeted manner in the coming years. The adaptation of the region to the residential and commercial development requirements will take several years.

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Package travel: Corona goodwill by tour operators involves risks

Europe Package tours

Corona goodwill by tour operators involves risks

Tour operators currently lure holidaymakers with particularly accommodating cancellation and rebooking conditions. During the booking process, however, customers should check carefully to what extent the offer applies to their trip. One risk remains.

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VMany tour operators are currently advertising with particularly accommodating cancellation and rebooking conditions. Holidaymakers can sometimes cancel booked package tours free of charge up to two weeks before departure or postpone the trip.

In view of the imponderables caused by the corona pandemic, the accommodating regulations are intended to offer consumers more security and flexibility – and to bring urgently needed bookings to the providers. That would kill two birds with one stone. The hope of economic recovery among the organizers and a carefree break from everyday corona for their customers would come together.

Travelers should nevertheless take a close look at the sometimes tempting offers. The Brandenburg consumer center names the two most important aspects that should be taken into account.

Offers for package tours with flights, not for cruises

Offers are often limited to classic package tours. The accommodating rebooking and cancellation conditions therefore often do not apply to the entire offer of an organizer, but only to flat-rate flights. For example, cruises as one of the most popular forms of travel do not usually apply, explains Robert Bartel, lawyer at the consumer association.

The accommodating rebooking and cancellation conditions often only apply to flat-rate flights

Quelle: Getty Images/Colin Anderson Productions pty ltd

During the booking process, vacationers should therefore check carefully whether the regulations also apply to their trip. If you find corresponding conditions during the booking process on your home computer or smartphone, it is advisable to take a screenshot of these rules. So you have a receipt to hand later in the event of a dispute.

Tour operators often wait with repayment

The second aspect that consumers should keep in mind is repayment. If you book, you usually have to pay a deposit; the full travel price must then be transferred, for example, no later than four weeks before departure.

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But even if there is a free cancellation option, it could take a while to get your money back, says Bartel. “Despite the promises and supposed guarantees, you cannot be sure that the organizer will repay your money quickly.”

The consumer advice center reminds you: Thousands of travelers had this right in the past year after the organizers had to cancel trips. Some people are still waiting for their money or have had to sue for it first.

The federal government can join the travel group TUI

After Lufthansa, the German state can now take a larger stake in TUI. Entry with a total of up to 25 percent plus one share is possible with the tourism group, which has been hard hit by the Corona crisis.

Source: WELT / Marcus Tychsen

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Advice for gambling addicts in distress (neue-deutschland.de)

Potsdam. The Brandenburg advice centers for gambling addiction fear that their work could soon worsen due to changed financing. Since the beginning of the year, the direct subsidies paid by the state to the advice centers have been transferred to the municipalities at a flat rate for their own use. “Instead of increasing the funds because of the increased addiction cases caused by the corona pandemic, the new financing actually amounts to a reduction in funds,” said Ulrike Kostka, director of the Caritas Association for the Archdiocese of Berlin.

The state funds of 400,000 euros per year, which the 13 advice centers received so far, would have to be shared between the 14 rural districts and four independent cities in the future, feared Kostka. Your Caritas Association has addiction counseling centers in Oranienburg and Falkensee. In addition, there is a risk that the municipalities will distribute the funds differently than before and that addiction counseling will be “downgraded”, said Kostka. The direct promotion of gambling addiction counseling was created in the course of a model project by the federal government in 2008 and was later continued by the state, as the Ministry of Social Affairs replied to a request from the state parliament member Günter Baaske (SPD). The “professional knowledge” then showed that gambling addiction is no different from other addictions. Therefore, a special structure of this work is no longer justified, but part of the general addiction counseling, so the ministry. According to Baaske, there are differences between the advice given to gambling victims and alcohol or pill addicts. “Anyone who works in drug counseling does not have to be familiar with gambling at all – there is also a completely different training program,” he said.

Caritas director Kostka also sees special requirements when advising gambling addicts. “This is a fast-moving market, the consultants have to be very internet savvy.”

The MP Baaske also fears that addiction counseling could be restricted in the districts “where the treasurers have more to say than the social affairs officers.” The most recent criticism of the state audit office of districts that collected grants for non-existent refugee places confirm his skepticism, emphasized Baaske. “If you can’t control it, you shouldn’t rely on the money going where it’s needed.”

According to the Arbeiterwohlfahrt (AWO), the city administration of Potsdam has announced that the promotion of gaming advice will no longer be recognized because it is a voluntary service. The Potsdam addiction counseling center is operated by the AWO. Specifically, it is about a position in counseling and an annual amount of around 25,000 euros, which the addiction counseling in Potsdam now lacks, said the AWO district chief Angela Schweers. With a view to the corona crisis, the advice should actually be increased by “double to triple”. “The health insurances are sounding the alarm, as mental illnesses, such as gambling addiction, increase sharply during the lockdown,” warned Schweers. The need for advice will be even greater when the new state treaty on gambling comes into force in July, which allows online casinos. Then these casinos, which so far have often run their business from Malta, are legal. dpa / nd

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And now the vaccine is running out (neue-deutschland.de)

Last week, 84-year-old Siegrid Becsei was the first resident of the “Esther” nursing home of the Hope Valley Lobetal Foundation to receive a corona vaccination.

Photo: dpa / Patrick Pleul

The tide turned within days. Brandenburg initially lagged behind with the corona vaccinations, but recently caught up – and now even has to stop the allocation of appointments and possibly postpone the opening of further vaccination centers in the state.

The background is that the manufacturer Biotech / Pfizer wants to increase production in its plant in Belgium in order to be able to deliver more vaccine later. In the restructuring phase, however, the output will first be reduced. This affects all European countries that are waiting for the valuable vaccine.

The delivery problems that became known on Friday afternoon “completely unexpectedly also affect Brandenburg to a considerable extent,” explained Gabriel Hesse on Monday. The press spokesman for Health Minister Ursula Nonnemacher (Greens) said: “We currently do not know how many vaccine doses Brandenburg will actually receive in the next few weeks. That is why we have to temporarily reduce the vaccination speed in the hospitals and in the vaccination centers significantly. “Due to the delivery delay, Brandenburg has” unfortunately no other choice. ” Therefore, temporarily no new vaccination appointments can be made on the telephone number 116 117.

Whether appointments that have already been made will have to be postponed and new vaccination centers will not open until later than originally planned should only be found out during the course of the day, possibly not until Tuesday morning. At the time of going to press, there was nothing on this. “The decisive factor now are reliable figures on the type and amount of delivery failures by vaccine manufacturers and the Federal Ministry of Health,” Hesse explained.

In addition to the three vaccination centers in Potsdam, Cottbus and Schönefeld, three more should be added these days: One on this Tuesday in the multi-purpose hall at Am Elsterschloß 4 in Elsterwerda, one on Wednesday in the Frankfurt (Oder) trade fair – for this purpose, a press invitation from the statutory health insurance physicians was sent on Monday afternoon Association of Brandenburg out – and one on Thursday in the Oranienburg water park. Christian Wehry, spokesman for the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, assumed on Monday afternoon with “Stand now” that no opening dates need to be postponed. “We are waiting for information on how much vaccine will come to Brandenburg,” he said.

At first, the corona vaccinations were only started more slowly in Thuringia than in the state of Brandenburg. A total of 38,474 vaccinations have been made since December 27th. By January 12th it was only 15,091. But then things progressed so quickly that the Ministry of Health was even considering using the reserves held back for the necessary second vaccination after 21 days as a precaution and relying on that week for Week 19 500 more vaccine doses should be delivered. Health Minister Nonnemacher had until then repeatedly insisted on putting back half of the cans that were delivered. Now that might turn out to be the right decision.

“Vaccinations continue in nursing homes,” Nonnemacher emphasized on Sunday. In addition, everyone who already received their first corona vaccination should also receive the second, the minister promised.

Ronny Kretschmer (left), member of the state parliament, has nothing to complain about this course. The Minister could not help with the delivery problems, he confirmed. But now she has time “to better organize the vaccination centers and the scheduling of appointments.” The left wanted to apply to the state parliament session in the coming week to invite in writing to the vaccinations. If enough vaccine was available again and the hotline made appointments again, it would otherwise be another lottery game, whoever got through and got an appointment, warned Kretschmer.

It is now planned to set up a total of 18 vaccination centers across the country. Initially, only eleven centers were firmly planned.

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Popular sport in new halls (neue-deutschland.de)

This is what the construction site of the new Potsdam multi-purpose sports hall at the airship port looked like in 2011. The hall has now been completed.

Photo: ZB | Robert Schlesinger

At the Potsdamer Sportpark Luftschiffhafen a structural and architectural generation change is underway these days: the move from the old gray and weathered gymnasium to the brand new three-field complex right next to the entrance and the parking garage. The students of the university have already moved into the new hall, other sports clubs will follow as soon as Corona allows this. This ended an era that began in 1962.

At that time, the most modern high-performance gym in Europe was built for the GDR Army Sports Club ASK Vorwärts. World champions and Olympic champions, such as gymnast Holger Behrendt, who won Olympic gold on the rings in 1988, received their polish here. After 1990, the now responsible Bundeswehr opened the hall for university and popular sports. There was no longer a performance league for apparatus gymnastics in Potsdam, and the performance center was relocated to Cottbus. The last remaining Potsdamers dissolved their Bundesliga squad noiselessly – not because they did not pass the sport, but because no sponsor could be found who would have assumed a minimum of the costs now incurred for start, clothing, transport and training. The athletes themselves were not financially capable of doing this – and at that time everyone had to see where they were going. In 1994, the Brandenburg state capital Potsdam took over the site on Lake Templin. Even then it was said that the building would be demolished and that a new building would follow. But then it took another quarter of a century to come before the time came.

This applies to practically all sports projects that have been implemented as part of the municipal investment program and the “Golden Plan Brandenburg” funding program. In times that are more marked by bad news, the chairman of the state sports association, Andreas Gerlach, was able to announce the successful completion of the “largest popular sports program in Brandenburg” in the education committee of the state parliament at the end of last week. According to Gerlach, 13.2 million euros of the total available amount of 14 million euros were approved for the implementation of the municipal sports facility program, which was still launched under the red-red state government. 66 projects have been completed through new construction or renovation, and another five could be added, he emphasized. Together with the municipal contribution of 25 percent, 17 million euros flowed into the popular sport of Brandenburg. The previously existing renovation backlog has been “significantly reduced”. Of the total of 111 construction projects in the state sport, 106 have been completed, with two others there are corona-related delays, according to the association chairman.

The proverbial end of the flagpole has not yet been reached: “It can go on,” declared the sports official determined to fight. Surveys in the state sports association have shown that there is a need for construction for a further 252 projects with a total volume of 87 million euros. Gerlach assured the Greens parliamentary group leader, Petra Budke, that issues such as energy efficiency and sustainability are always taken into account in the construction of sports projects, but also in renovation projects out of the clubs’ own interests and costs. There are discussions about artificial turf.

The old gymnasium had to pass a final test five years ago, when the neighboring sports and swimming pools, which had previously been refurbished for millions and millions of euros, were not certified as being sufficiently safe in the event of snow loads and were suddenly no longer allowed to be entered. Only the building from the GDR days, which was over 50 years old at the time, was certified as being stable, so that it had to offer asylum to other athletes until their buildings were also retrofitted and met the necessary criteria. Now the equipment gym has had its day, and demolition will soon begin.

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Without country air, without nibbles (neue-deutschland.de)

With a panning camera over the fields of the Mark, it goes towards Oderbruch. Lapidar a sonorous voice assures: “The small town of Müncheberg has been known for agricultural research since GDR times – and recently also for organic soups.” Perhaps the vegan products from WDM Fertigprodukt GmbH in Märkisch-Oderland are actually as tasty as in the video clip promised. The brand name “Wünsch Dir Mahl” covers ecologically sustainable regional food, from the use of raw materials to the marketing. But nobody will throw it out of their panties if, for example, has not tasted the potato soup brand “like at Grandma’s” at least once. To be able to see, smell and then taste everything that farms, stables and fields produce yourself – wasn’t that always the greatest temptation that drew crowds of visitors to Brandenburg-Halle 21a every year at the Green Week?

Corona made that impossible in 2021. For the first time in its history, the International Green Week (IGW), which a year ago united 1,800 exhibitors in the halls under the radio tower and, as always, attracted around 400,000 people, is taking place entirely digitally. The state of Brandenburg, which this year is the 31st guest at this trade fair, which was held for the first time in 1926, has to be content with a digital presence. Even the duration of the consumer fair has been shortened to two full days, January 20th and 21st. A bitter setback for the agricultural and food industry in the Brandenburg region, for which numerous producers advertised in changing group shows during the 85th Green Week in Hall 21a last year. Natural landscapes, the districts, municipalities, tourism and professional associations as well as clubs presented themselves at around 70 stands. This time, as Brandenburg’s Agriculture Minister Axel Vogel (Greens) regretfully announced in an online press conference on Friday, there will only be a purely virtual »BrandenburghalleDigital ’21«.

“At this time, the Prime Minister would normally have taken a tour with our Minister of Agriculture, the Green Week should have started today, if it had been held at the exhibition center in Berlin,” reminded Minister Frauke Zelt. From Brandenburg’s point of view, it is of course the central task of an institution like Green Week to advertise the region’s products, Vogel said. The Brandenburg Hall is usually rented by the state and made available to the regional development association Pro Agro, which then binds the individual companies that want to exhibit there. “For the state of Brandenburg, it is initially less expensive to hold a digital international Green Week,” said the minister. “But it would be much more positive if we could have used this money, which would have been available in the budget, for the Brandenburg-Halle, in order to then advertise our Brandenburg products even more intensively.”

In the virtual Brandenburg Hall, for example, agricultural companies but also tourism regions will be presented in short portraits. “Cinematic fare” instead of the usual finger food, as Vogel noted. The clips were produced with the Potsdam film office in the media house on the Babelsberg film site for Green Week. They are about regional value creation, regional brands as networks of good taste and innovative marketing. In addition to the Müncheberg ready-made food producer WDM, which is part of the Regionalwert AG network, the Syringhof Beelitz, the Ökohof Kuhhorst, the Biohof Schöneiche, Gasthof Reuner, Brandenburger flour from Müllrose, Eberswalder sausage and Peter’s agriculture from Werneuchen are there. You get to know the regional umbrella brand Spreewald, the Elbe-Elster regional seal and the certification mark of the Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve and learn more about the winners of the Pro-Agro Marketing Prize 2021, which Agriculture Minister Vogel will honor as patron on January 20th.

A digital networking meeting on a virtual marketplace could not replace a real Green Week, where people could taste and smell, freshly cooked and heatedly discussed on the Brandenburg evening, admitted the Green politician. But the digital version is a clear signal to the industry that regional products and healthy food, comprehensible value and supply chains, fair prices and environmental services for society, with and from which farmers can live, are highly topical issues.

This year, more than ever, Brandenburg is focusing on the topic of regionality in connection with organic farming, sustainability and climate protection. “During the corona pandemic, the demand for regional and organic products rose again,” explained the Agriculture Minister. This is also proven by figures from the Association for Organic Farming Berlin-Brandenburg. As managing director Michael Wimmer explained, the sales of the organic food retailers grew by leaps and bounds by around 23 percent in 2020. Sales totaled 715 million euros (2019: around 580 million).

“So that the Berlin-Brandenburg market can be better served and managed in a more environmentally and climate-friendly way, the agri-environment ministry is tackling many projects: We are developing the eco-action plan with which the organic cultivation area is to increase to 20 percent by 2024.” Vogel added that this would even increase to 25 percent by 2030. His ministry will install value chain managers who will advise companies on adaptation to climate change, support the conversion of agriculture and certification costs. And one is considering the introduction of an EU-notified regional seal with which Brandenburg companies could finally apply more promisingly for catering in Berlin daycare centers and canteens.

According to the ministry spokeswoman Zelt, the videos will be broadcast on the IGW Digital 2021 Berlin platform on January 20 and 21, after which they can be viewed in the IGW media library and on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture until April 30, 2021.

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Tesla in Grünheide: The German fear of the Fall

Birgit Dietze would like to talk to Tesla boss Elon Musk about a lot. She is the head of IG Metall in the Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony district. And the world’s fourth so-called Gigafactory of the electric car manufacturer is currently being built. The tranquil community of Grünheide, a few kilometers east of the capital, is to become part of the tech visionary’s success story.

Musk plans to have half a million cars built here per year as early as 2022, with around 12,000 new jobs initially planned. This is actually good news for Germany as a business location. But for Dietze and her union, the project is also about something else: the question of power.

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What the police shouldn’t forget about people with dementia (neue-deutschland.de)

It is as normal for people to become a bit forgetful in old age as the fact that many seniors can hear and see worse than in their youth. But this cannot be compared with the difficulties that arise with Alzheimer’s disease.

“The police are called first when everyone doesn’t know what to do next,” said Sabine Köpf on Wednesday in the state parliament’s health committee. Köpf heads the Brandenburg competence center dementia. There are such centers in many places in Germany. The center for the state of Brandenburg was launched in 2016. Since then, 2,653 relatives of demented patients have completed a one and a half hour nursing course with the help of the competence center. Social judges, general practitioners, taxi drivers, caretakers from housing associations, rural women – and police officers were also trained in dealing with people with dementia. Because the police are always or at least often alerted when the elderly have disappeared without being found or are found disoriented by passers-by.

It is possible that people who do not yet have severe dementia will continue to live in their own homes, it is possible that they will not have to go to a nursing home straight away. However, dealing with them requires sensitivity and some basic knowledge of suffering. The competence center offered all of the Brandenburg police stations to train their colleagues in this regard, reported Sabine Köpf. Before the corona lockdowns, however, only one police station could actually be visited by the experts.

Last year the competence center offered 44 courses. Some then had to be canceled because of the corona pandemic. “Our credo is that a training course like this should actually take place in every village of 200 people,” explained Sabine Köpf. According to her, it was helpful that it was possible to find a room for the training at a housing association in one place. That is lower threshold. In other words: it is easier for people to go there. Before that, they had to get together in a nursing home. But unfortunately that seemed a bit as if a nursing home was inevitable for dementia.

Around 67,000 Brandenburgers suffer from dementia. In 2009 only around 43,000 residents of the state were affected, but according to a forecast it will be more than 87,000 in 2030. This expectation has to do with demographic change.

Older people are more likely to suffer from dementia than younger people. In the age group of 65 to 69 year olds, it affects around 1.6 percent of people, in the age group of over 90 year olds it is around 40 percent. Younger people can also develop Alzheimer’s disease, but it is rare for them. It is estimated that there are only around 20,000 people with dementia who are younger than 65 years of age in the whole of Germany.

“We often talk about people with dementia, but we come to a point where we want to talk to those affected themselves,” said Sabine Köpf, who works with a small team – all women – in the competence center.

In the health committee, of course, Köpf could only talk about people with dementia and not with them. State parliament members such as Björn Lüttmann (SPD), Carla Kniestedt (Greens), Roswitha Schier (CDU) and Bettina Fortunato (left) had questions. For example, they wanted to know to what extent schools are involved in educational work. The base of the Alzheimer’s Society in Strausberg is in contact with schools, explained Sabine Köpf. But at the competence center, pupils are not the focus, even though the young people could have grandparents or great-grandparents with dementia.

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