November 05, 2011
BERLIN -- It took a semitrailer from Munich to get it all here – the little white and blue flags, the right napkins and cotton print fabric and decorative garlands, lederhosen of course, and last but not least, pictures of Aloisius, the iconic Hofbräu angel. In short, everything needed to make the place gemütlich, welcoming.
With 20 tons of "traditional Bavarian decorations' now in place, the moment many Berliners have been waiting for is finally here: the grand opening of what is supposedly the biggest beer hall in all of Europe. (And the world?) The larger-than-life drinking establishment, which opens its doors Friday, Nov. 4, was originally going to be called the Hofbräuhaus. But the famous Munich original threw a legal spanner in the works. The sign over the door instead reads: Hofbräu Berlin.
"Servus' – general manager Björn Schwarz, 38, gives us a Bavarian greeting followed by the typical "Moin, moin" of his place of origin: the northern German city of Hamburg. His words echo in the huge 6,000-square-meter space on three floors.
For those with an intimate knowledge of Germany and its regional customs, Schwarz's origins – and new venture – may seem a little mixed up. What is a Hamburger doing importing Munich drinking culture to Berlin? Schwarz says he doesn't attach much meaning to such concerns. He worked for the Jever beer brand for a long time so he's always been brewery-oriented, and anyway, he thinks in terms of numbers, not regions. What the numbers are telling him is that there are enough Berliners all too happy to consume 120 tons of pork shank, 25 tons of the white sausage called Weißwurst, and a million liters of beer per year.
"And given the location, what they don't eat and drink, tourists will," says the Hofbräu Berlin head.
Swaying in true Bavarian style
The new beer hall is located in the heart of Alexanderplatz, often referred to by locals as "the Alex." One of Germany's best-known squares, Alexanderplatz is also one of its bleakest. With its chaotic traffic, piddly World Time Clock, blood-red shopping bunkers, sterile prefab buildings, mobile sausage sellers, and freezing winter gusts of wind, it somehow manages to look and feel even bleaker with every attempt made to infuse some soul into it. And yet tourists come here in droves. As Schwarz sees it, now they'll have an even better excuse to visit since Hofbräu Berlin will provide not only good food and drink but some folklore as well.
It's no secret that southern German folksiness has always been a big hit with Berliners as well. Every open-late store carries Munich Helles Lager prominently displayed. Gendarmenmarkt square looks as if it's been transplanted from Munich. And nearly every Berlin neighborhood organizes its own Oktoberfest.
But Schwarz's new venture on Alexanderplatz brings another whole dimension to the Bavarian colonization of the city: 2 km of benches with room for 2,500 guests. And that's not counting garden space. There's a stage on each of the three floors, where starting at noon yodelers, alphorn performers and glockenspiel players will entertain customers who, says Schwarz "are encouraged to link arms and sway" in true Bavarian style.
Alfons Schuhbeck, one of Germany's top chefs, is going to be pulling the first beer at the opening after which there is going to be a world championship in "Weißwurstzuzeln" – the practice of cutting the little sausages open on the ends and sucking the filling out of the skin.
One person who's not particularly enthusiastic about the new beer hall is the owner of a restaurant called "Der alte Fritz" – located just across the street. The restaurateur wonders who will want his meatballs in sauce "when over there it's all flash and noise." His regulars have done their best to be reassuring. "Anyone who doesn't fit in over there can come join us over here," they say.
Read the original story in German
Photo - Blyzz
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Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
October 25, 2021
Welcome to Monday, where an apparent coup is underway in Sudan, Colombia's most-wanted drug lord gets caught, and Michael Jordan's rookie sneakers score an auction record. We also focus on a report that the Thai government is abusing the country's centuries-old law to protect the monarchy from criticism (lèse-majesté) to target pro-democracy activists and protesters.
[*Zdraveite - Bulgarian]
🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• Developing: Sudan leaders arrested amid military coup reports: Soldiers have arrested several members of Sudan's transitional government as well as civilian leaders, and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has reportedly been put under house arrest, in what the information ministry called a military coup. Pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets of the capital city Khartoum where there are reports of gunfire and clashes.
• Colombia's most wanted drug lord to be sent to U.S.: Colombia's most dangerous drug trafficker, known as Otoniel, was caught after a joint army, air force and police operation and faces extradition to the U.S. He led the country's largest criminal gang, and was on the U.S. most wanted list for years.
• Xi speech marks China's UN anniversary: China's President Xi Jinping marked the 50th anniversary of Beijing's entry into the United Nations with a speech calling for greater global cooperation, adding that issues like climate change, terrorism and cyber security needed multilateral solutions. Taiwan was not mentioned.
• German ISIS bride jailed for crimes against humanity: A German court has sentenced a German woman and former member of the Islamic State to 10 years in prison for letting a 5-year-old Yazidi enslaved girl die of thirst in Iraq. The case is one of the world's first trials to prosecute a war crime against the Yazidis.
• COVID update: The Beijing marathon scheduled next weekend has been postponed until further notice as China seeks to stamp out Delta variant outbreak and return to zero cases ahead of the Winter Olympics next February. Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in Eastern Europe have surpassed the 20 million mark as the region fights against its worst outbreak since the pandemic started and vaccination efforts lag.
• Goodbye, Gunther: U.S. actor James Michael Tyler, best known for his role as the barista Gunther on the TV show Friends, has died at 59 of prostate cancer.
• Sneakers record: A pair of Michael Jordan's white-and-red Nike shoes, which he wore during his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls in 1984, sold for $1.47 million — a new record price for sneakers at auction.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
"The end of a boss," titles Colombian daily El Espectador, reporting on the arrest of drug lord Dairo Antonio Usuga, known as Otoniel, who had led Colombia's largest criminal gang and had been on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's most wanted list for years. He was captured in a raid and will be extradited to the U.S.
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
A Georgia man is being prosecuted for wire fraud after spending most of his business's COVID relief loan to buy one Pokémon trading card for $57,789.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
How Thailand's "Lèse-Majesté" law is used to stifle all protest
Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.
👑 Thailand's Criminal Code "Lèse-Majesté" Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family. But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.
🚨 The recent report "Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand," documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations." The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.
💻 The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them. Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
"Children are going to die. People are going to starve."
— The United Nations warns that Afghanistan verges on a "total breakdown" as millions of Afghans, including children, could die of starvation unless urgent action is taken by the international community. The agency calls for the release of frozen assets to avoid economic and social collapse, despite concerns over the Taliban government. A recent report said that about 97% of Afghanistan's population may sink below the poverty line, and World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley warned that more than half of Afghanistan's population of 39 million were facing acute food insecurity and "marching to starvation" in comparison to 14 million two months ago.
🕌 🔍 IN OTHER NEWS
Dutch cities have been secretly probing mosques since 2013
At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.
The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.
The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.
Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talked to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.
All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.
It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.
"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.
Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
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