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Danish Squatters Launch Alternative 'IPO' To Avoid Eviction

A group of squatters is pooling its resources and trading shares in an effort to save Christiania, a so-called ‘autonomous neighborhood’ founded 40 years ago in central Copenhagen. The famous squat – long a target of rightist politicians – is being eyed b

Walking in the streets of Christiania in Copenhagen
Walking in the streets of Christiania in Copenhagen

Worldcrunch *NEWSBITES

Copenhagen's Christiania, arguably the most famous squat in Europe, has historically sought to sidestep the basic rules of capitalism. This week, however, the self-administered Danish community borrowed a page straight from the corporate world it shuns, launching what can only be described as an IPO – of sorts. The goal? To raise 10 million euros and buy the land it has occupied for the past four decades.

Christiania, home to hundreds of hippies and other Copenhagen residents seeking an alternative way of life, is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary. Since the beginning, the community – which began with the occupation of former military barracks – has endured a long fight for survival against Danish authorities.

The last decade was particularly difficult for Christiania. Denmark's political right took power in 2001 on promises to crack down on drug trafficking and cultural radicalism. Not surprisingly, the conservative government upped pressure on Christiania, where hashish is smoked openly.

This month's legislative elections were reason to celebrate for the alternative community. The political left – which has historically been more tolerant of the squat – squeezed its way back into power. Yet the community still has to contend with a February ruling by the Supreme Court, which declared that the land Christiania occupies belongs to the state. The land is also highly coveted by property developers.

Three months later the squatters agreed – albeit reluctantly – to accept a deal proposed by Denmark's Finance Ministry, which called for establishing a fund to buy the majority of the buildings and a small part of the land for 10 million euros. Residents are expected to pay annual rent of some 800,000 euros for the rest. The estimated market value of the property is two to three times that.

"Even after buying the land and buildings, none of the Christianites will actually own the property," explained Risenga Maghezi, who is responsible for finances in Christiania. "However, we would like to buy as much as possible in order to keep the government out of our business."

The Christianites might be hippies, but they are also willing to fight to finance and keep their little piece of paradise. Technically, however, their newly acquired shares – which range in value from anywhere between 1 and 1,500 euros – are not the same as a traditional investment. Instead of property rights, buyers will be given nothing more than the joy of knowing they are supporting an alternative community, plus an invitation to the squatters' parties.

Read the full story in French by Olivier Truc

Photo - Kieran Lynam

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Coronavirus

Why Making COVID Predictions Is Actually Getting Harder

We know more about COVID than ever before, but that doesn't make it easier to predict what will happen this year. It also remains to be seen if we'll put the lessons we learned into practice.

​A young boy who arrived on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong wears a face mask and face shield at Vancouver International Airport in Canada on Jan. 10, 2023.

A young boy who arrived from Hong Kong wears a face mask and face shield at Vancouver International Airport in Canada on Jan. 10, 2023.

Duncan Robertson

In 2020, we knew very little about the novel virus that was to become known as COVID-19. Now, as we enter 2023, a search of Google Scholar produces around five million results containing the term.

So how will the pandemic be felt in 2023? This question is in some ways impossible to answer, given a number of unknowns. In early 2020, the scientific community was focused on determining key parameters that could be used to make projections as to the severity and extent of the spread of the virus. Now, the complex interplay of COVID variants, vaccination and natural immunity makes that process far more difficult and less predictable.

But this doesn’t mean there’s room for complacency. The proportion of people estimated to be infected has varied over time, but this figure has not fallen below 1.25% (or one in 80 people) in England for the entirety of 2022. COVID is very much still with us, and people are being infected time and time again.

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