Local news translated, Sept. 21

Daily Host Nation Stories September 21, 2020

German cities dangerously close to upper infection limit

Currently, three districts and cities in Germany exceed the mark of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the past seven days. Munich has now joined the cities of Würzburg and Cloppenburg with high corona numbers. Another five regions are already dangerously close to the upper limit: the two NRW cities of Hamm and Gelsenkirchen, the Bavarian districts of Neu-Ulm and Würzburg, and the Berlin district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. (Focus, September 21)

Munich contemplates mandatory masks in public

In Munich, the corona numbers are rising, and today there are discussions about how the Bavarian capital could get this under control again. Minister President Söder holds out the prospect of making masks mandatory in public places where the distance rules cannot be observed. He has very mixed feelings, he says, for example when he looks at the pictures of wild parties like those at the Viktualienmarket on the weekend. Therefore he wants to discuss with the city what to do about mouth and nose protection, said the CSU leader to the radio station B5 aktuell. “I do not want to take the joy of celebrations away from anyone,” said Söder. But in view of the high infection numbers in Munich, responsible social gatherings needs to be observed. (Ntv, September 21)

7000 students and 580 teachers in NRW in quarantine

The new school year has been running for a good month in North Rhine-Westphalia and the number of cases in the state is at a comparatively high level. There are just over 5000 schools in NRW with around 1.9 million students. As reported by the “Rheinische Post” with reference to the NRW Ministry of Education, almost 7000 students and around 580 teachers are currently in precautionary quarantine. Four schools are completely closed and a 106 partial closures. (Rheinische Post, September 21)

Birthday party sends hundreds of people into quarantine

Reutlingen – In the district of Reutlingen the public health department has reported a major Covid-19 outbreak. According to several media reports on Sunday, 14 people were infected with the coronavirus during a private party. Now the district is having hundreds of contact people tested, as reported by SWR radio. The private party took place last weekend in Dettingen an der Erms. Afterwards 14 people tested positive for the corona virus.

According to the Reutlingen health department, the infected had contact with about 450 other people, including children and teachers. Several schools are affected – high schools, secondary schools and commercial schools in Metzingen, Dettingen, Bad Urach and Reutlingen. According to media reports, several classes have to stay at home.

The head of the Reutlingen district health office, Gottfried Roller, reported that seven schools in the Reutlingen district with more than 350 people were affected. Affected is defined as having close contact with demonstrably infected people, which means a 14-day quarantine applies to them. (Stuttgart Nachrichten, September 21)

Prime ministers consider Christmas markets possible

Following the example of Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder, other heads of state have also held out the prospect of opening Christmas markets despite the currently rising coronavirus infection rates. There would be a “slimmed-down version”, which would be designed like a string of weekly markets, Thuringia’s Minister President Bodo Ramelow told “Die Welt”. However, Ramelow emphasized that it was inconceivable that this year there would be a Christmas market like the one in Erfurt with two million guests. Saarland’s Minister President Tobias Hans also believes it is possible that Christmas markets could take place. Like Söder, he is thinking about restrictions on alcohol consumption. (Welt, September 21)

Non- Corona News

German military stands up space operations center

Security in space has gained enormous importance for the economy, state and society. Space debris and targeted attacks on satellites are the two biggest threats. To this end, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer will put the new “Air and Space Operations Center” (ASOC) into service this Monday at the Air Force’s operations center in Uedem (North Rhine-Westphalia). It is intended to help protect satellites from disruptions and attacks, and also to observe missiles that could become a danger to populated areas when they re-enter the atmosphere. The Operations Center observes and catalogs space objects and the so-called space debris that can become a danger for other devices. The Center opens with 50 assigned staff members and is expected to grow to 150 employees by 2031. In some cases, existing capabilities will be combined. For example, the Gestra (German Experimental Space Surveillance and Tracking Radar) radar system will be used to track the orbits of space vehicles. The Tira space observation radar is then used to take a closer look at objects. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, September 21) 

Minister Seehofer plans a study on racism

Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer (CSU) is planning a broad-based study on racism in German society. “There will be no study dealing exclusively with the police and the accusation of structural racism within the police force,” Seehofer told “Bild am Sonntag.” “That does not even remotely do justice to the problem. What is needed here is a much broader approach for society as a whole, and we are working on that.

His remarks follow recent events concerning the police force in North Rhine-Westphalia, where it was discovered that five chat groups involving officers contained right-wing extremist content. Thirty police officers were temporarily suspended from duty and fourteen are to be permanently removed from duty. Seehofer called the uncovering of the chat group a “punch in the gut,” but emphasized that the “overwhelming majority of our police officers” uphold the principles of the constitution.

According to the report, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution will first present a report on racism and extremism in the security agencies at the end of the month. (Ntv, September 21)

Baden-Württemberg is looking for cybercriminologists

With the increasing use of media, a considerable proportion of criminal offenses is shifting further and further into virtual space and the police need specialists for this. The Ministry of the Interior of Baden-Württemberg predicts that offenses in the area of cybercrime will reach a high level overall this year. “In the months January to August 2020, an increase in the number of cases for the offense of spying on and intercepting data can be seen compared to the same period last year. For the area of data alteration and computer sabotage, on the other hand, there are signs of a decline,” said a spokesperson for the Minister of the Interior, Thomas Strobl (CDU), in Stuttgart.

On Tuesday, the green-black cabinet is reportedly discussing a bill to improve cyber security and is expected to release it for hearing. Preparations for a cyber security agency are underway, and it is expected to be fully operational in early 2022. “Digitization will only succeed if it is secure and people trust the technology. That is why we want to use the new holistic cyber security strategy to create the Cyber Security brand made in Baden-Württemberg, with the Cyber Security Agency as its central core,” explained Strobl.

In the 2020/2021 budget, 83 posts for so-called cybercriminals and 13 million euros were approved. According to the ministry spokesman, 19 of these positions have been filled so far. In the course of 2020 and in 2021 the remaining positions are to be filled. “New employees are attracted by the scope for shaping the establishment of a new authority and the prospect of strengthening cyber security in the country,” said the spokesman. The agency is to become a central platform that coordinates the work of the various investigative authorities and networks the state, local authorities, business and research on the topic of cyber security. (Welt, September 21)