Local news translated – Jan. 26, 2023

Graphic by U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Host Nation Update, Jan. 26, 2023

When will the mask requirement be waived?

In many areas of public life, the obligation to wear a mouth-nose protection has already been lifted. From the end of January, masks no longer have to be worn in local public transport in Ba-Wü. Employees in doctors’ offices and other outpatient medical facilities in Baden-Württemberg will also be allowed to go about their work without mouth-nose protection.  These relaxations are part of Baden-Württemberg’s new COVID Ordinance, which goes into effect on January 31. The ordinance eliminates all regulations that the state was able to impose. Also, as of February 2, passengers on long-distance public transport trains and buses will no longer have to wear masks. This was decided by the federal cabinet on Wednesday.  Other requirements decided by the federal government, such as the mask requirement in hospitals and care facilities, the regulations for patients and visitors to doctors’ offices and the testing requirements in clinics and nursing and retirement homes are still valid until April 7. They also continue to apply in Baden-Württemberg. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 26)

Faschings parades in the Stuttgart Region – Facts and dates around the colorful hustle and bustle of carnival

The Swabian-Alemannic carnival has a long tradition and is not just fun. The various associations have strict rules. The Association of Swabian-Alemannic Fools’ Guilds (VSAN) is an association of 68 fools’ guilds that are dedicated to maintaining the cultural heritage of Shrove Tuesday. The Swabian-Alemannic tradition is celebrated in the southwest of Baden-Württemberg and in parts of German-speaking Switzerland. It starts every year on January 6, Epiphany, with the symbolic dusting of the masks.

The hot phase of the Swabian-Alemannic carnival then begins with the “Schmotzige Dunnschtig”, which is the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. One of the most famous events is the Rottweiler Narrensprung, where about 4000 participants parade through the streets. But there are also parades, witch balls and other events in many small towns in the southwest. But be careful: Under no circumstances should you shout “Helau!” or “Aalaf!” on such occasions, because that is offensive in Shrovetide. The Swabian-Alemannic call is: “Narri-Narro!”  On Ash Wednesday, everything is over, and in some places, the Fasching event is ceremoniously laid to rest in the form of a straw doll and burned on the evening of Shrove Tuesday.  On Shrove Tuesday, February 21, thousands of spectators will once again cheer on the guards and jesters at the big parade in downtown Stuttgart, which starts at 2 p.m.  The Black Hussars have prepared an extensive program for the people of Vahingen and the region: On Saturday, February 4, the Hussar Ball will begin at 7:33 p.m. at the Häussler-Bürgerforum in Vahingen. The children’s carnival in the Österfeldhalle on Katzenbachstraße is on Sunday, February 5. It starts at 2 p.m. On Friday, February 17, the costume party will take place from 8:11 p.m. at the Vaihinger Bürgerforum. It goes on on carnival Tuesday, 21 February, at 10.33 o’clock with the city hall storm, before on ash Wednesday, 22 February, the carnival with a herring meal is buried.

The Musikverein Stadtorchester Feuerbach and the carnival club Stuttgarter Rössle invite for Sunday, February 19, from 2 to 5 p.m. to the traditional children’s carnival in the Feuerbacher Festhalle, Kärntner Straße 48. Among other things, dance guards show their skills. And the most original costumes will be awarded prizes.

A lot of fun is the weekly food market in Bad Cannstatt, which takes place on Schmotzigen Thursday, February 16, on the market square when all sellers dress up0 for it. Probably again a highlight on Schmotzigen Thursday, February 16 will be the bucket race on Cannstatt’s market square starting at 6 pm. Clubs, institutions and celebrities climb into the Kübele and master a course. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 26)

Giant family program at Herrenberg Stadthalle  – Shows and entertainment for families and children

Alex Efstathiou has a huge heart for children. The German-Greek restaurant manager has proven this countless times in recent years through various fundraising campaigns.  A special highlight of his “Children’s Heart Campaigns” has always been the “Great Children’s and Family Afternoon” in the Herrenberg Town Hall. A spectacle, which can take place on coming Sunday after two years pandemic break finally again without reservation. That Alex Efstathiou’s anticipation is particularly great after this dry spell goes without saying. “I’m as happy as a little kid myself,” says the organizer, “I really missed the event.”    Alex Efstathiou points out that a total of only 700 people are allowed in the hall at any one time, however, experience has shown that there is always a lot of coming and going at the Children’s and Family Afternoon, so there is no need to be deterred. Things start at 3 p.m., after which a new artist takes the stage every ten minutes for three hours. “Especially the younger kids aren’t receptive for that long, so a lot of family come, watch a few shows and then make room for others,” says Alex Efstathiou. Still, he points out that those who come later will have to put up with longer waits.  As far as the program is concerned, however, it doesn’t matter when you come. More than 300 artists could be won, who serve different categories. There is no fixed program, but each mini-show is a highlight in itself, according to Alex Efstathiou: “For example, we have a juggler world champion from Berlin, the breakdance world champion group “Battle Toys” and the artistic cycling vice European champion Simon Köcher as guests.”  But that’s not all, there will be magicians, clowns, and Andy King brings Elvis back to the stage as a tribute artist. Children can get autographs from the VfB Stuttgart mascot “Fritzle” and the Stuttgarter Kickers mascot “Waldi”, have a photo shoot in a glider or have their make-up professionally done. And some clubs from the local area will also be represented. For example, the Tabea ballet school from Herrenberg and the sports acrobats from TSV Grafenau will be giving a taste of their skills.  “So the families can expect a great contrast program with lots of variety,” says Alex Efstathiou. As always, admission is free, and there is no age limit. “Anyone can come – from toddlers to grandpas.”  For the German-Greek, the fun of the children is the main focus of the whole event. “I want to give the kids a little joy.” However, there will once again be a generous donation handover to benefit children with cancer and the language center. (Stgt Nachrichten Jan 26)

Police, airports, banks – Russian hackers attack Germany

The scale of hacker attacks on German institutions is growing. In addition to the websites of the police in Baden-Württemberg, the Foreign Office of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and various other institutions are apparently affected. And there are clear indications of the perpetrators of the cyberattacks, which have been paralyzing websites since Wednesday.  According to information from the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) and the Interior Ministry, the attacks originate from Russia.  Websites of the federal and state administration would also be attacked. “However, these attacks have been largely repelled so far and have remained without serious impact,” the spokesman said. The attacks had been announced by the Russian hacker group Killnet, he said. “The BSI has advised operators of critical infrastructures in the affected sectors of established measures to defend against and mitigate DDoS attacks,” the spokesman said. According to research by our newspaper, lists of possible targets were apparently already circulating on the Internet on Wednesday evening. Among them are federal institutions, the police, but also banks or airports. The Stuttgart airport is also to be found on it.  In Baden-Württemberg, the defense against the attacks apparently did not work everywhere. The police website was also affected by a DDos attack. The site www.polizei-bw.de was virtually overwhelmed by calls within a short period of time. Apparently, an attempt was made in this way to overload the web server and paralyze the page. This did not succeed completely, but because countermeasures did not have the desired success, the Technical Board decided to temporarily shut down the server itself for security reasons. The website, which contains a wealth of information and services for citizens, was also temporarily unavailable on Thursday.

The SPD in the state parliament has expressed concern about the attacks and has already turned to the Ministry of the Interior. In it, interior expert Sascha Binder asks for information about “which areas in Baden-Württemberg are affected and the extent of the disruptions.” He also asks ” whether there are enough IT experts in the state’s own IT administration to respond to cyberattacks, which are increasing overall, and to take the necessary measures.”  “The State Criminal Police Office of Baden-Württemberg is conducting the investigations into the crimes under consideration in close consultation with the departments concerned. At this point, no statements can be made about the authorship of the attack,” the Stuttgart Interior Ministry said. However, because of the temporal connection with the announced tank deliveries to Ukraine, a Russian hacker attack is also being considered there. SPD expert Binder asks in his letter to Interior Minister Thomas Strobl: “In addition, we would like to ask you to explain how high your house assesses the current threat situation due to cyber attacks by pro-Russian hackers since yesterday. We also think it is imperative that you show what current measures the state government is taking and will take in the coming days to protect our digital infrastructure.” (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 26)