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Germany

The Public Work Program For Addicts That Pays In Beer

A trial public work program for German drug addicts promised modest hourly wages and optional bottles of beer. The results have surprised social workers.

Frank (left) and Mike cleaning up the streets of Essen
Frank (left) and Mike cleaning up the streets of Essen
Francois Duchateau

ESSEN It's 10:30 a.m., and four men are meeting in the basement of No. 24, Hope Street in the German city of Essen. The street name is coincidentally symbolic. Washing machines are aligned against the wall, and work clothes are laid out in front of every locker. Behind the screen in the changing area Markus and Frank have a brief altercation about a pair of gloves before all the men proceed to the staff room.

It was just a minor argument, Mike says, because basically all the men get along. Mike, 39, used to work in construction, back when he lived an orderly life. Now he's "starting again from zero," he says. He doesn't have a fixed address and is temporarily sharing a room with another homeless person in the emergency shelter of an addiction facility.

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A man walks on a tank left behind by Russian troops, on display in Kyiv’s Mykhailivska Square.

Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Hej!*

Welcome to Tuesday, which marks three months since the war in Ukraine started. Meanwhile, BoJo is in trouble again, and millionaires at Davos ask to be taxed more. Persian-language, London-based media Kayhan explores what the future of Lebanon could look like after the election defeat of Iran-backed Hezbollah.

[*Swedish]

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

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