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CRIME

Drug dealer can keep German job centre start-up business grant

An enterprising unemployed man who was caught dealing in magic mushrooms has been told he does not have to pay the more than €7,000 business start up money the German employment office gave him.

Drug dealer can keep German job centre start-up business grant
Not allowed Photo:DPA

The 27-year-old man from Hürth near Cologne, set up a company to import the mushrooms from Holland, store them in his home and then deliver them to his customers by car, the Express newspaper reported at the weekend.

The man, named only as Marcel F., wrote up a business plan and submitted it to his case officer at the job centre, complete with details of his internet site with the name pilzkoepp.de – which means mushiehead.

The job centre accepted his plan and gave him a €7,200 grant to start his company. Because the mushrooms are not plants, they were not covered by the narcotics laws.

It was not long before the police knocked on Marcel’s door and confiscated all his stock, before taking him for questioning and prosecution.

The law had been changed to include mushrooms, the Express said, and Marcel’s business was no longer legal.

He was given a suspended 18-month sentence – but the court ruled that he did not have to repay the job centre.

WEATHER

Damaged freighter blocks traffic at drought-hit Rhine

A stranded cargo ship caused traffic to be halted Wednesday at the Rhine river in western Germany after suffering a technical fault, authorities said, at a time when water transport was already ailing from a drought.

Damaged freighter blocks traffic at drought-hit Rhine

The vessel is stuck at St. Goar and Oberwesel, in between the cities of Mainz and Koblenz, water police said, adding that they were expecting to clear the stricken ship within the day.

The machine damage came as water levels in the Rhine had dropped to critical points at several locations, including at nearby Kaub — a known bottleneck for shipping where the river runs narrow and shallow.

The gauge at Kaub stood at 34 cm (13 inches) on Wednesday, well below the 40-cm reference point.

While vessels are still able to navigate at low water levels, they are forced to reduce their loads to avoid the risk of running aground.

About four percent of freight is transported on waterways in Germany, including on the Rhine, which originates in Switzerland and runs through several countries including France and Germany before flowing into the sea in the Netherlands.

READ ALSO: How the Rhine’s low water levels are impacting Germany

Transport on the Rhine has gained significance in recent months because among cargo moved on the river is coal, now all the more necessary as Germany seeks to wean itself off Russian gas.

Germany’s biggest companies have already warned that major disruptions to river traffic could deal another blow to an economy already beset by logistical difficulties.

The 2018 drought, which saw the benchmark depth of the Rhine in Kaub drop to 25 cm in October, shrank German GDP by 0.2 percent that year, according to Deutsche Bank Research.

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