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Berlin Buys Thousands Of Homes To Stop Rent Increases

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The Berlin city council has agreed to buy 14,750 apartments with the two largest owners in Germany for 2.46 billion euros, in an attempt to offset the increase in rents. The three municipal companies that have acquired these apartments are Degewo, Howoge and Berlinovo , according to a statement from the city’s finance department.

On the other hand, Vonovia and Deutsche Wohnen (private companies) are the ones that have sold these thousands of apartments as part of a merger plan that is being closely watched by the German authorities. The agreement with the city council includes a commitment by the two companies to limit rent increases until 2026 and to build 13,000 new apartments to try to address the housing shortage and alleviate public concerns about rising costs of living. as explained by the financial agency Bloomberg .

Municipal housing
“The return to municipal property gives tenants the necessary assurance that their apartments will be permanently in the low-cost segment,” said Matthias Kollatz, city finance councilor, in an e-mailed statement on Friday.

“We are buying carefully,” he says, adding that the three Berlin real estate companies that will take over the properties “are in very good condition and can successfully manage the purchase.”

The combination of Vonovia and Deutsche Wohnen to create a housing giant with more than 500,000 residential units in Germany is being watched closely in Europe’s largest economy. Furthermore, Germany has one of the highest proportions of rented families in the developed world.

Affordable housing has become a hot political issue and particularly in the capital, which a few years ago was an affordable place to live. Rising rents in Berlin have sparked mass demonstrations and a referendum that seeks to force the city to expropriate the big landowners .

Elections and referendum
The vote on the non-binding measure will take place on September 26, the same day as the national and Berlin elections. Most political parties have pledged to try to control rent increases across the country, concentrating primarily on building more homes.

“The timing of the proposed deal during a key election year, and with several politicians proposing to curb rent increases, appears controversial. However, the two owners have protected their future by interacting early with key stakeholders.”

Berlin is particularly exposed to the problem because much of its social housing was sold after reunification. The growth of the population of the city derived from its resurgence has generated strong tensions in housing and has attracted many investors from the sector.

Vonovia CEO Rolf Buch has commented that the agreement announced on Friday will create “a more affordable, needs-based and environmentally friendly living space, especially for young families.”

“We will only solve the challenges in the Berlin housing market together with politicians and society,” he says in an emailed statement.

Organizers of the Berlin referendum believe the deal shows that their concept can work to restore balance in the housing market, but they criticized the price and how the transaction was negotiated.

“Berlin needs transparent and affordable socialization and not gifts for real estate companies,” says Moheb Shafaqyar, spokesman for the referendum organizers.

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Orlando News

3 Injured As Crane Collapses Near AdventHealth Orlando

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A crane collapsed near AdventHealth in Orlando this week, injuring three people. According to Orlando fire officials, two people were treated at the scene while one person was brought to the hospital after having a traumatic injury.

The incident happened Tuesday at the AdventHealth Orlando construction site.

Rescue Team Evaluate Workers, Assess Property

According to health officials, the person who suffered a traumatic injury caused by the debris was brought to Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical center, Wesh reported.

The crane, according to construction workers, is used to raise segments of concrete from the ground. Most of the time, several people are on the ground near the crane.

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

After evacuating and assessing other workers, a rescue team eventually started to evaluate and assess the property.

Aaron Rhodes, Orlando Fire Department Special operations district chief, said that “once the area is deemed safe, the investigation will occur. Authorities who have jurisdiction over that will take that over. We won’t make any speculations about what caused it. Our main concern is making sure we’ve done everything we need to do make sure the area is safe.”

Construction Company To Determine Cause of Incident

Rhodes also noted that fortunately, only the crane collapsed at the site and that a complete and total failure of the building did not happen which may have been a whole different case.

AdventHealth also released a statement after the incident and said that they are working with other construction partners to determine what happened.

According to the news report by Welsh, the construction company leading the project, Finnrock, already dispatched engineers at the scene to identify the next steps.

 

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Florida News

Florida Activist Desmond Meade Has Civil Rights Restored: Read Details

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Desmond Meade

Civil rights activist Desmond Meade – the man who has been fighting for the voting rights of felons in Florida – has finally won a prolonged battle. The Florida voting icon’s civil rights have been restored, allowing him to run for office, serve on a jury and take the bar exam.

Meade received the news on Saturday during his live broadcast on Twitter. According to Durham Herald Sun, the news was given to him by his family, who presented him with a letter from the Florida Clemency Board announcing that his civil rights have officially been restored.

“I feel great, another chapter in the journey,” he said after receiving the news. “It shows that you just got to keep pushing,” he added.

Meade is the founder, president, and executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which raises voice for the civil rights of citizens coming back to society after completing prison terms.

The right activist of Orlando, Meade, led a grassroots effort for many years that got success in 2018 with the statewide passage of Amendment 4 to the Florida Constitution, restoring voting rights for as many as 1.4 million Florida felons, including him.

Desmond Meade

Desmond Meade. Image Credit: Twitter

However, despite approval from over two-thirds of state voters, the terms of restoration were the subject of debate, with GOP state leadership saying that returning citizens must pay all fees and fines before they could return to the voting booth.

Meade, who was convicted of drug and firearms offenses and served a jail term, already has the right to vote and had cast his right in the 2020 presidential elections.

Governor DeSantis Denied Right In March

In March 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, for the second time denied a pardon for Meade, saying it was because of a serious allegation against him from the U.S. Army. DeSantis said Meade could go through the regular process to apply to have his civil rights restored.

On the very day, DeSantis and the Cabinet, sitting as the Clemency Board, adopted an “automatic process” to speed up the restoration of rights for felons who have completed jail terms or other offenses, including paying fines and fees. The move also abolished the five-year waiting period before felons can apply for restoration.

New Rules

According to new rules, the felons with outstanding legal financial obligations can still apply to have their civil rights restored, able to go before the clemency board, which can waive court-ordered fees and fines.

Meade’s rights were restored with that new rights restoration process that the FRRC pushed for. But the rights restoration rule does not apply to those people who are convicted of murder or felony sex crimes.

“It’s not a pardon, but it’s definitely a step,” Meade said in the video. “I can apply to the Florida Bar now, I can get a house, I can run for office if I wanted to run for office.”

MacArthur Fellow

According to WUSF News, Meade was made a 2021 MacArthur Fellow in September. He was also granted a sum of $625,000 as a “Genius grant”. Meade has said the money will be used to pay off law school loans and to continue his work for people convicted of felonies.

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Florida News

Orlando man goes live on Facebook before hitting Police officers with brick

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ORLANDO, Fla. — A man in Orlando, Florida hit the police and injured two officers with brick on Saturday morning. The police revealed that the culprit had set up a video live stream on Facebook before causing the incident. The attack took place when the officers were standing at Magnolia Avenue around 12:40 a.m. on Saturday “as part of a downtown detail”, police said.

The culprit was identified as William McClish, 27. A number of charges have been filed against him, including an attempt at the first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer with a weapon, said the police.

Credit: NBC Miami

Videos of the attack are doing rounds on YouTube, which was posted by the Orlando Police Department. The footage shows a man walking towards a police car while picking up something from the ground. Thereafter, the man moves towards the police car and starts ambushing them with the brick. A second officer comes to the rescue and starts punching the man to the ground. The dispute, however, continued but the camera couldn’t capture the whole of it. Subsequently, the squabble took attention and more police arrived on the scene.

Nearly four officers could finally arrest the man.

The YouTube description of the live stream by the Orlando police stated: “It was determined the man set up a camera to live-stream the attack to Facebook – that is the source of the video above.”

Further, police Chief Orlando Rolón also issued a statement citing that the incident marks the second unprovoked attack on Orlando police officers in one week.

Eyewitnesses reported that the officer was speaking with another officer when a man suddenly attacked without warning.

Rolón also stated: “One officer has a significant facial injury. The other was bit and nearly had his eye gouged out. Our officers will recover from their injuries, but individuals like this who take premeditated steps to harm law enforcement officers and other human beings must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

Another attack on the police had taken place just a few days ago when several individuals opened fire on two police officers.

According to a report by news station WESH, in a similar incident on Tuesday, two Orlando police officers were investigating a tip in an unmarked vehicle when three men opened fire on them. Officers returned fire.  None of the officers were injured. Three men have been arrested in connection with the shooting.

Rolón said: “We cannot wait for an officer or a citizen to be murdered. Prosecution and proper sentencing will be a deterrent for those who think they will only get a slap on the hand and probation soon after a short time in prison.”

While one officer hit with the bricks sustained severe nose injury, the second officer suffered profound eye damage with his left eye gouged out. He was bitten several times on his arm and hand.

McClish was later taken into custody following the attack.

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