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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘germany

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • At Antipope, Charlie Stross starts a discussion about the consequences of satellites getting knocked down. How would a newly satellite-less world cope?
  • Centauri Dreams looks at red dwarfs and the challenges of their potentially habitable exoplanets.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze considers ways to detect the spectral signatures of rocky impacts on young stars.
  • The Dragon’s Tales considers why nuking Mars in the aim of terraforming will not work.
  • Language Hat considers languages with royal and commoner registers.
  • Languages of the World starts a consideration of the links between genes and history and language.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the popularity of Planned Parenthood.
  • Marginal Revolution thinks the added pollution from the Volkswagen fraud had a trivial negative effect.
  • pollotenchegg maps Russian language use in 1926 Ukraine.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • blogTO notes that Toronto’s old City Hall may yet become a shopping mall once the courts move out.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that worlds without plate tectonics are doomed to stop being habitable, and looks at different kinds of cosmic ray environments.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the Iranian buildup in Syria.
  • A Fistful of Euros has a reading list for Jeremy Corbyn.
  • Otto Pohl talks about the historic role of German minorities in Africa and Asia.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog shares a map of the Middle East’s Kurdish populations.
  • Spacing Toronto looks at campus safety in the age of threatening tweets.
  • Towleroad notes Michael Sam stating he could have had a better NFL career had he not come out.
  • Transit Toronto notes the TTC has taken its tenth new streetcar into service.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy looks at intersections between assisted suicide and religious liberty.
  • Window on Eurasia notes controversy in Belarus over a Russian military base and looks at Circassians in Syria.

[URBAN NOTE] “What neighbourhood and gentrification mean for Berlin immigrants”

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Defne Kadıoğlu Polat writes for Open Democracy about how immigrants in Berlin are being priced out by gentrification.

Berlin has some of the fastest rising rents in Europe and a rapidly changing consumption infrastructure. Despite continuing regulations, such as a new rent cap law enforced in June this year and prohibition of luxury restorations in the relevant quarters, gentrification is taking its toll on the local population. Particularly low-income immigrants are adversely affected.

Generally speaking, in countries with strong welfare traditions such as Germany, the negative effects of gentrification are not easily detected. Often immediate displacement can be avoided through strict rent control. This year, in fact, Berlin was the first city in Germany to issue a rent cap law that forbids landlords from charging more than ten percent over the average local rent for new tenants. However, Berlin-based reporter Michael Scaturro in The Guardian has already noted that the law remains ambiguous, giving landlords the opportunity to make use of legal loopholes.

From my own field work in Berlin’s up-and-coming Reuterkiez neighborhood, located in the historical working-class and immigrant-heavy Neukölln borough, I can tell that landlords are eager to push low-income residents out of apartments and rent out to middle class newcomers and students who pay more due to flat sharing. Particularly immigrants are disadvantaged when it comes to defending themselves since they frequently lack language skills and know-how of the German legal system.

Moreover landlords and housing administrations often intentionally fall short of fulfilling their responsibilities in order to get old-established immigrant tenants to leave voluntarily. Given Neukölln’s historic roots as a working-class location, apartments are relatively basic. One major problem is moist, which can only be avoided through proper renovation. In one instance, Fatima[i], a woman with Arabic roots and broken German, told me her housing administration blamed her for the moist and refused to take care of it. In this and similar cases it seems that low-income and often welfare-dependent immigrants are more easily intimidated because they are not aware of their legal privileges. Murat Yıldırım, a lawyer active in the neighborhood, notes that many of his immigrant clients get themselves into legal difficulties by signing contracts they do not fully understand. After they have signed, it is often too late.

Meanwhile, many immigrant residents in Reuterkiez are willing to do whatever it takes to stay put in their neighbourhood. Spatial proximity is crucial for low-income inhabitants with limited social capital, but it is even more crucial for residents with a migratory background, female migrants in particular, who have often arrived after their husbands, do not work outside their homes and are less mobile. Accordingly, having everything nearby – such as doctors who speak their mother tongue, ethnic food shops or homework-assistance for their children – becomes a vital issue.

In my experience, immigrants in Neukölln’s Reuterkiez neighborhood are therefore willing to reduce their quality of life in order to stay in or close to their familiar environment. So, a female immigrant from Turkey, Emine, told me she had moved into a one-and-a-half room apartment with her husband and three children offered to her by her landlord after the pipes burst in her old apartment. Since she did not know when the damage would be fixed she signed up for a new – way too small – apartment in the same building, fearing she would have to leave the neighborhood if she did not take what she was offered. Emine’s landlord then proceeded to sell the building, and the new owner fixed the damage and rented the space out to students.

But it does not always have to be a landlord on the make who leaves tenants in distress. A typical scenario for Reuterkiez is that a family with new offspring wants to move into a bigger place but is simply unable to find a new apartment in the same area for a rent they can afford. So they stay in the same apartment despite its becoming too small for their growing family.

The German welfare agencies are not helping to alleviate the situation either: several long-term immigrant residents told me that the local unemployment agency advises them to move to Marzahn-Hellersdorf in East Berlin where rents are still low. Marzahn-Hellersdorf, however, is infamous for neo-Nazi activity. Understandably, most families would rather live in a badly-maintained and overcrowded apartment than move to that area. And even without the threat of racism, many immigrants are unhappy about changing their neighbourhood. Emine sums up the problem for her and other immigrants in her quarter:

Written by Randy McDonald

September 29, 2015 at 2:44 am

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • blogTO notes a proposal to make the Gardiner Expressway an equivalent of New York City’s High Line park and observes the dropping of charges against Toronto rooftopping photographers.
  • Crooked Timber notes that Trump is a consummate populist.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze maps the WASP-33 system and suggests Uranus was formed by a planetary collision.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes progress has been made on synthetic telepathy.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money examines the myth of the failure of public housing in the United States and notes the perverted minds of anti-sex conservatives.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog links to scenarios for Jewish population growth.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at the vulnerability of Belarus and notes anti-German sentiment in Kaliningrad.

[LINK] “For the love of god — or safety — Muslim refugees converting to Christianity in Berlin”

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The Toronto Star shared Kirsten Grieshaber’s Associated Press report

Mohammed Ali Zonoobi bends his head as the priest pours holy water over his black hair. “Will you break away from Satan and his evil deeds?” pastor Gottfried Martens asks the Iranian refugee. “Will you break away from Islam?”

“Yes,” Zonoobi fervently replies. Spreading his hands in blessing, Martens then baptizes the man “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.”

Mohammed is now Martin — no longer Muslim, but Christian.

Zonoobi, a carpenter from the Iranian city of Shiraz, arrived in Germany with his wife and two children five months ago. He is one of hundreds of mostly Iranian and Afghan asylum seekers who have converted to Christianity at the evangelical Trinity Church in a leafy Berlin neighbourhood.

Like Zonoobi, most say true belief prompted their embrace of Christianity. But there’s no overlooking the fact that the decision will also greatly boost their chances of winning asylum by allowing them to claim they would face persecution if sent home.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 9, 2015 at 5:23 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • blogTO shares photos of Yonge and Bloor from the 1960s.
  • Crooked Timber’s Corey Robin looks at trigger warnings in education.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that Barnard’s Star cannot support a massive planet in its orbit.
  • The Dragon’s Tales has more on the Ukrainian war.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog examines racism.
  • Far Outliers notes how the Ryukyus fared under American occupation.
  • A Fistful of Euros looks at the divergences of Spain and the United Kingdom interest rate-wise.
  • Geocurrents notes another small Kurdish-speaking sect.</li
  • Joe. My. God. notes an attempt to appeal the Irish marriage referendum.
  • The Map Room’s Jonathan Crowe notes a 2016 conference on fictional maps in Poland.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a microhistory of a block in New York City.
  • The Power and the Money examines Ukraine’s debt negotiations and argues that Russia is not as big a player in global oil markets as it might like.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog and Window on Eurasia note how ethnic Russians in Ukraine are continuing to identify as ethnic Ukrainians.
  • Understanding Society considers realism in social sciences.
  • Whatever’s John Scalzi talks about the Sad Puppies.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Tatarstan’s potential separatism and suggests some Russian Germans still want an autonomy.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Centauri Dreams looks at the role of supernovas in solar system formation and notes new models for gas giant formation.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that a trans model now features on one of the Real Housewives shows.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that the surge of immigration into Germany might lead to a shutdown.
  • Savage Minds considers the issue of how, and if, to achieve anthropological fieldnotes.
  • Spacing Toronto notes some cool photographs of early 20th century star Mary Pickford.
  • Torontoist reports on Eaton’s 100th anniversary fashion show in 1968.
  • Towleroad celebrates Yvonne Craig, best known as Batgirl on the vintage 1960s show Batman.
  • Transit Toronto notes that, this weekend, the TTC will be auditioning musicians at the Canadian National Exhibition.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests how Ukraine can win over pro-Russian Donbas and Crimea and argues that the Russian economy won’t recover from the current slump unless there are radical changes.

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