Monday, May 15, 2006
No nudist beach at Westende
Plans for a nudist beach in the West Flemish coastal resort of Westende have been scrapped. The town council of Middelkerke was divided, but eventually rejected the project with 13 votes against and 12 votes in favour.
At present, Bredene (near Ostend) boasts the only nudist beach along the Belgian coast.
Members of the local liberal party (VLD) in Middelkerke had launched the idea to have a second nudist beach in Westende last year, as they believed it would provide a boost for the local economy.
They hoped to open the nudist beach on the site of Camping Cosmos, a caravan site that had to close as a result of planning restrictions.
The site is located near the sand dunes of Westende. It is a secluded area where nudists should be safe from peeping Toms.
"Not the perfect location"
The Flemish liberals are the biggest party in the local council of Middelkerke.
They had the backing of two members of the opposition, but that was not enough as Christian democrats and socialists voted against.
Liliane Pylyser of the Christian democrats said that Westende is not the ideal location for a nudist beach, as "Westende has built a reputation as the ideal destination for young families with children."
Friday, May 12, 2006
Hi, we're Marco and Marko from the Netherlands. Welcome to our website! We are two real soccer fanatics with a passion for America. So we're serious fans of American soccer. We'll be going to the WC in Germany soon, not to support the Netherlands, but to support your country. Admit it, no other country is so fanatic about sports as America. And we just love that! That's why we've already bought tickets for all of America's games. But there is still a lot we don't know about your team, so maybe you could pass on some tips that could help us out? Thanks a million! WATCH THE VIDEO
The Brugge mayor has ordered the 'skinhead' café De Kastelein to shut down following a suspected racist bashing last weekend.
Mayor Patrick Moenaert took the decision after consulting with police and the owner of the café, located on the Maalsesteenweg.
Two men were assaulted on Saturday night in the vicinity of the De Kastelein. One of the victims, a 50-year-old black Frenchman, is still in a coma.
His 37-year-old friend suffered broken bones and memory loss.
He claims the attack was racially motivated because the culprits did not steal the EUR 200 the victims were jointly carrying at the time.
"Those skinheads didn't want money. They wanted to get us because my friend has the wrong colour," he said.
Five suspects were later arrested inside the café, a popular haunt for skinheads, three of whom have since been remanded in custody.
And after returning from holiday, Moenaert entered into talks with the café owner on Wednesday.
The mayor's spokesman said the owner agreed to close the café until the end of May to maintain public order.
New discussions will be held at the end of May between the owner, mayor and police. A decision on the possible re-opening of the café will be made at that time.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
For the first time in Belgium a smoker has been convicted on charges of smoking in a public building.
The defendant, a gentleman from Deinze (East Flanders), lit up in the Youth Courthouse in Ghent.
When questioned about what he was doing the guy turned aggressive and refused to put out his cigarette.
Because he refused an out-of-court settlement, the smoker was taken to court.
The judge imposed a 143 euro fine and recommended that the defendant stop smoking.
In Belgium smoking in public buildings can result in a fine of up to 1,650 euros and a two-year prison sentence.
The Belgian Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt has inaugurated a monument in honour of American soldiers who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. This battle in eastern Belgium is seen as one of the turning points of the Second World War in Europe.
The new memorial erected by Belgium and Luxembourg is located at the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington. Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt travelled to the United States especially to attend the inauguration.
Arlington National Cemetery is the second largest military cemetery in the United States.
At the inauguration ceremony the Prime Minister underlined the strong ties between the United States and Europe, a theme that Mr Verhofstadt has stressed repeatedly in recent months.
US veterans present were pleased that the Belgian leader had decided to attend in person.
Belgian police had a hard time managing traffic flows to a Shell filling station at the Heizel (Brussels) on Wednesday morning.
The oil company was offering motorists free petrol (gas) in order to promote its new network of unmanned filling stations.
Motorists were able to fill up for free between 11 and 12 o'clock.
The company wanted to highlight lower prices at unmanned filling stations. Scores of motorists spent several hours queuing up in order to fill their tank for free.
The oil company is launching similar give away promotions across Belgium in the next few days.
Petrol costs around 1.30 euros/litre in Belgium at the minute.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
A Greek EU public servant was arrested in Brussels on Thursday for allegedly taking photos up the skirts of unsuspecting girls.
The man's actions were spotted by a female cashier in the shopping centre City II. He was also filmed by security cameras.
The incident took place in the Veritas shop, where a cashier noticed a man keeping a close eye on a 16-year-old girl in the lingerie department.
The man allegedly bent down and took a photo. He then allegedly went down on his knees behind the girl and took more photos under her skirt.
The cashier informed security, who detained the man until police arrived.
Identified as a 36-year-old man of Greek nationality working for the EU in Brussels, the suspect has reportedly confessed his actions.
Police also found various photos on the man's camera and he had a similar collection of photos stored on his computer at work.
The man has been charged with public indecency and has been remanded in custody.
May 13th sees the fourth Zinneke Parade. The parade, which was organised for the first time when Brussels was European City of Culture in the year 2002, draws its name from the Brussels dialect word for a mongrel dog.
The organisers chose the name as it is not only understood by speakers of both French and Dutch, but also reflects the great mix and diversity of the city's population.
Organisations from all over Brussels have been working on costumes, dance routines and other forms of artistic expression in preparation for the bi-annual event.
The organisers say that the aim of the Zinneke Parade is to help combat the increasing disillusionment and social alienation that is often present in Europe's large cities.
4,000 participants, 200,000 spectators
Some 4000 people will be taking part in the parade, which is the culmination of two years of work by people from neighbourhoods throughout Brussels.
They will set off from one of the four starting points located in Schaarbeek, Elsene, Sint-Jans Molenbeek and Anderlecht.
The four groups will all come together in the city centre. The organisers estimate that some 200,000 will watch the parade as it makes its way through the city.
The price of building plots in Flanders went up by some 20% last year. Meanwhile, house prices in Flanders went up by an average of 16% and more than doubled in some parts of Brussels.
The prise rises are the biggest since the 1970's.
Low interest rates and the banks' willingness to allow home buyers to stagger their mortgage repayments over a much longer period than was previously the case are both cited as causes of the increas
Filip Jansen from the study bureau Stadium told the VRT that the price rises are to blame on people being allowed to lend more.
"Everyone dreams of being able to buy a home that is just above their budget".
"If people are able to lend more by staggering their repayments over a longer period, they will be able to pay more for a home".
The prices adapt to the new market conditions and rise accordingly.
Houses in the Brussels districts of Schaarbeek, Sint-Joost-ten-Node, Etterbeek and Elsene have doubled in the space of a year.
The districts are in the East of the city and not too far from the European institutions.
Nevertheless, house prices there are still cheaper than in the affluent South Brussels suburbs of Ukkel, Watermaal-Bosvoorde, Oudergem and Sint-Pieters Woluwe.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
As the sun was going down on Anzac commemorations in New Zealand yesterday it was rising on those in the fields of Flanders and surroundings towns, attended by several hundred Antipodeans. New Zealand's 29,967 World War I and II death toll was highest in France, with the second highest number of war dead buried in Belgium. Most of those are in the region immortalised by the 1915 John McCrae poem which begins "In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row, that mark our place..." READ ON
The deadline for tax returns this year has been pushed back to 19 July, Finance Minister Didier Reynders said on Tuesday.
Tax specialists who lodge claims for clients via the tax-on-web system must do so by 31 October.
Initially, tax returns had to be submitted by 30 June, but Minister Reynders's spokeswoman denied the postponement was due to delays or other problems at the treasury.
The extra time will give the public who are issued their documents last the legally-required four weeks in which to lodge their tax returns.
The deadline for personal income tax returns was postponed to 31 August last year due to a series of problems at the tax office.
The killer of Joe Van Holsbeeck has been identified by Polish investigators. The 17-year-old is still on the run and is thought to be staying in Poland. The Polish Prime Minister has promised that his country will do everything possible to find the perpetrator. Meanwhile, the murder has become front page news in Poland as well. READ ON
Monday, April 24, 2006
Worldwide consumption of wine has slowly crept up over the past decade, and the United States is on track to overtake France as the biggest guzzler in the next two years, according to new studies.
Global consumption hit 235.6 million hectolitres (6.22 billion gallons) last year, the Paris-based International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) said in a report released Thursday.
Although that represented a mere 0.1 percent rise over 2004, the average annual increase over the past decade is in the order of 0.5 percent, it said, noting that a dip recorded up to the mid-1990s had now reversed itself.
OIV director general Frederico Castellucci said he expected the increase to continue this year, by around one million hectolitres.
France, though, is continuing to suffer from a slump in consumption. Last year saw a 1.6 percent drop over the previous year to 32.6 million hectolitres, or 55 litres per inhabitant per year.
If that trend continues, the United States, currently in third place behind Italy in the consumption stakes, is set to become the biggest wine-drinking country in the world in 2008, according to a study by British firm ISWR/DGR.
OVI said US consumption in 2005 jumped 3.3 percent to 25.4 million hectolitres, and ISWR/DGR estimates it will reach 27.66 million in two years' time when France's consumption dives to 26.9 million.
Castellucci said: "In Britain and the United States, we have the pleasure of seeing that people are drinking more and more wine, to the detriment of beer."
Italy has a slender lead over France in terms of wine production, putting out 50.556 million hectolitres to France's 50.550 million. Spain follows with 35.3 million, then the United States with 23.5 million — though the latter is rapidly growing.
France's loss of prestige in a market it once dominated is all the clearer in the export numbers. There, it fell to third place in 2005, sending abroad less wine than Italy and Spain.
Large numbers of people marched through to commemorate the death of Joe Van Holsbeeck. The young man was killed for an MP3 player last week. Protesters passed the Central Railway Station where Joe was killed. The parents of Joe thanked all the people who came. READ ON
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Philip Winikoff is seen in an undated police photograph. Winikoff, claiming to be a doctor, went door-to-door in a Florida neighborhood offering free breast exams, and was charged with sexually assaulting two women who accepted the offer, police said on Thursday.First of all, who in their right mind would let a guy who's last name sounds suspiciously like *wackmeoff*, examine their breasts? I mean, other than my ex wife and her sister.I love the picture though, the only thing that's missing is that his glasses should have those spinny circles like you buy at a gag shop. READ STORY HERE
Friday, April 21, 2006
The Stanley Cup made an unusual journey through London, England this week, passing puzzled Britons on its way to the same shop where Lord Stanley bought the original in 1892.
The shop now sells jewelry to exclusive customers, serving them champagne as they browse through diamonds.
Workers at the shop weren't sure what to make of the large, silver cup - a replica, in fact, with the original retired and now sitting inside the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. READ ON
A retiree in northern Germany flushed some 30,000 marks down the toilet, believing the old bank notes were worthless, police said. Officials were alerted by a blocked pipe in the northern city of Kiel. A cleaning company employee extracted soggy bundles of bank notes, but more money got away as the water started flowing again. Investigators then discovered that the retiree had reported a blocked pipe at his house the same day. They visited the "slightly bewildered" man at his apartment and he confirmed that he had flushed the money away, a police statement issued late Wednesday said.
Switzerland's Tourist Board has launched an advertising campaign featuring some of the country's most attractive men to lure Europe's desparate housewives away from the soccer World Cup this year. But will it work?
Marital break-ups usually peak during major sports tournaments as men stay glued to their TV sets and become drunk and abusive, and there's no reason why that trend should be any different during the 2006 football World Cup in Germany. READ ON
The Belgian and Dutch football associations have agreed to investigate the feasibility of jointly hosting the World Cup in 2018.
Representatives of the two associations agreed on Tuesday that the study should be completed by the end of this year.
"We met with the Dutch FA late last night in Eindhoven to discuss the possibility and the initial indications were positive," a Belgian FA spokesperson said on Wednesday.
"We will carry out a study before the end of the year and speak with our governments about getting their backing. Our president Jan Peeters believes it is possible."
The starting point for the proposal is the 2000 European Championship
finals which were co-hosted by the two lowland countries.
"We played then in 10 stadiums, divided equally between the two countries. This is the idea once again," Henk Kesler of the Dutch Football association (KNVB) said.
The results of the assessment will depend largely on the attitude taken by the governments in Brussels and The Hague.
"Naturally, we can't do this on our own," Kesler said. "Such an event can only be a success if we all put in the work. Then it will succeed."
Kesler said everyone was sceptical when the Dutch and Belgians proposed taking on the organisation of the European Cup in 2000. "Yet, that tournament was an enormous success. Why wouldn't it work now?"
The Netherlands hosted the World Cup for the under 20s last year and next year the European finals for players under 21 is also being organised by the KNVB.
British Airways has launched a bold challenge to its no-frills and flag-carrier competitors by slashing air fares on its European short-haul routes by as much as 50pc. In a move that could spark a price war in the skies, the airline is cutting some fares from Heathrow and Gatwick to as little as £29 one-way, while continuing to offer frills such as in-flight meals and free carriage of golf clubs and skis. READ ON
Thursday, April 20, 2006
A Longmont man has been ticketed $50 for suspicion of interfering with a traffic signal, but he says he really enjoyed using it.Jason Niccum told The Longmont Times-Call that he bought a device that let him change traffic lights from red to green, called an Opticon, on eBay for $100.He told the newspaper the device "paid for itself" in the two years he had it, helping him cut his time driving to work.Niccum was cited on March 29 after police said they caught him using the strobe-like device to change traffic signals. Police confiscated the Opticon, and informed Niccum it was illegal to possess it.READ ON
Catching sight of a pretty woman really is enough to throw a man's decision-making skills into disarray, a study suggests.
The more testosterone he has, the stronger the effect, according to work by Belgian researchers.
Men about to play a financial game were shown images of sexy women or lingerie. READ ON
This morning, the funeral of Joe Van Holsbeeck takes place in Haren, in Brussels. The family of the boy, who was murdered for an mp3 player last week, has chosen for a prayer service to be held instead of a traditional Roman Catholic service as many members of the ethnic minorities are expected to turn up. Meanwhile, investigators receive increasingly more tips to help them find the two killers, who are still on the run.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Make sure your girlfriend is always at the right place with these GPS Panties. These panties will monitor the location of your daughter, wife or girlfriend 24 hours a day, and can even monitor their heart rate and body temperature.Based on pioneering research developed by the U.S. military at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), we have brought this revolutionary technology, previously only available to the military, to you!No honey, of course not, it's just a tiny flower, it's the design...
A hospital patient being treated with a flammable gel for a skin condition has died after being engulfed in flames as he lit a cigarette. It is believed the 60-year-old was smoking on a fire escape at Doncaster Royal Infirmary on Monday. He was taken to the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield with serious burns but later died.
Coca-Cola Co.'s (KO) North America unit said Tuesday it plans to launch a new line of premium blended beverages with Godiva Chocolatier called Godiva Belgian Blends.
The line, scheduled to launch July 31, will include three flavors: dark chocolate mocha, milk chocolate mocha and french vanilla latte.
Financial terms of the agreement weren't disclosed.
Godiva Chocolatier is a unit of the Campbell Soup Co.
After a long internal debate that has been lasting for at least three years, the Belgian Government could soon issue new regulations applying to the online gambling sector. Casino style, poker and slots will probably be included.A new law draft is being presented to the Minister of Justice. This draft has been created by the commission on gambling on the basis of the results af a long lasting investigation in which emerged that at least 100,000 Belgian citizens are playing on the Internet and they spend 1 billion Euro per year. Betting via the internet is still considered illegal in Belgium but people are not prevented by doing this thanks to the presence of 9,000 websites connected with Belgium. Instead of banning online gambling the studies made by the Commission have lead to the decision of give licences to nine Belgian casinos that should handle the online gaming activities such as payouts, the time per game, bets, age of access to betting, pay backs, loss thrshold per hour. This, states the Commission, would permit to deliver a legal and controlled offer for betting business.
Belgian police are releasing video images of the killers of Joe Van Holsbeeck, the seventeen-year-old who was murdered in the Central Station last week for his mp3 players. The killers were captured on video for a full two minutes.
From the pictures it is clear that the killers hung around in the Central Station for a while before the murder. CCTV footage captured Joe's murderers on video for several minutes.
The two killers were also filmed after the murder, when they ran off, by a CCTV camera installed on a shop in the neighbourhood.
Only pictures on which the two suspects are clearly identifiable will be available.
The police are not releasing pictures of the killing itself.
On Tuesday the police released two identikit pictures of the killers.
The two murderers are aged between 16 and 18, have dark hair and dark eyes, but the features of their face are not particularly clear.
The police say that a Nike training jacket worn by one of the suspects is the clearest indication towards his identity.
The identikit pictures have been circulated among detectives specialised in youth crime for a few days now, but with little result.
By releasing the pictures to the public at large the public prosecutor's office now hopes to force a breakthrough.
The identikit pictures were compiled using eyewitnesses and CCTV footage in the Central Station.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
A U.S. Marine squad was marching north of Faluijiah when they came upon an Iraqi terrorist, badly injured and unconscious. Onthe opposite side of the road was an American Marine in a similar but less serious state. The Marine was conscious and alert and as first aid was given to both men, the squad leader asked the injured Marine what had happened. The Marine reported, "I was heavily armed and moving north along the highway here, and coming south was a heavily armed insurgent. We saw each other and both took cover in the ditches along the road. "I yelled to him that Saddam Hussein is a miserable, lowlife scumbag, and he yelled back that Senator Ted Kennedy is a good-for-nothing, fat, left wing liberal drunk. So I said that Osama Bin Ladin dresses and acts like a frigid, mean spirited lesbian!" He retaliated by yelling, "Oh yeah? Well, so does Mrs. Clinton!" "And, there we were, in the middle of the road, shaking hands, when a truck hit us"
More than one third of Brussels citizens who work in the capital of Europe do not always feel safe on STIB-MIVB public transport.According to a survey presented on Tuesday by Flemish MP Carla Dejonghe, 36.55 percent of the 487 people questioned, who live and work in Brussels "occasionally do not feel safe on public transport"."Brussels inhabitants tend to use STIB-MIVB transport more in the evening, which might be why they do not always feel at ease," the Liberal VLD Brussels parliamentarian said.The Flemish University of Brussels (VUB) carried out the quantitative investigation from 16-20 March 2006 to illustrate the transport habits of Brussels's working population. While 36.55 percent of Brussels residents feel unsafe, the survey showed that 23.9 percent of people who live outside the capital but commute there each day also feel ill at ease. Lack of travel information, insufficient lighting, deserted stations and poor cleanliness were also cited as contributory factors. The Flemish MP is working towards improving public transport with suggestions for clearer passenger information, improved closed-circuit monitoring and making the subways inaccessible for people without a valid ticket. "To travel, it is not just about getting from A to B," Dejonghe said. "It is also a way of life in the city - this is why we want to present several constructive proposals to the Brussels Transport Minister [Pascal Smet]."
No matter how much luggage you are allowed to carry on your flight, there is now a maximum weight limit per piece at Brussels Airport. Pieces of more than 32 kg are no longer accepted at check-in, on any carrier. If you have a piece of baggage that is heavier, you will be requested to redistribute the weight over several bags.If needed, extra bags are provided by a number of airlines, or can be obtained at the Airport Shop in thedepartures hall at a very competitive price. This measure is installed as a health and safety precaution for airport workers at Brussels and all over the world, who handle your luggage.
Smoking is no longer permitted in Brussels International Airport, Zaventem, as of Friday 14 April. BIAC, the company that runs Zaventem Airport, has decided to prohibit smoking in all public places in the airport, including its bars, restaurants and lounges. A partial smoking ban had been adopted earlier this year, but until Friday, smoking was still allowed in designated areas. However, a complete smoking is now in force and all ash trays have been removed. Many smokers crave a cigarette after a long flight, but they will now have to wait until they've claimed their luggage and passed passport controls before they can go outside to have a smoke. One man found smoking outside, in front of the airport building, said the complete ban is a bit exaggerated, arguing that the temperature difference can be a problem. He had only just come back from Southern Europe and was still dressed in his t-shirt.
One of Belgium's main high street banks, Dexia, has announced a hike in mortgage rates.It's the first time in two-and-a-half years that a Belgian bank has increased its rates - the standard interest rates for people taking out a 20-year loan will amount to 5 percent in future. The announcement was expected, as interest rates - both short and long-term - have been increasing around the world recently. An economic revival and rising inflation are believed to be the major contributory factors. "We have no choice but to increase our interest rates if we want to keep a profit margin," Gunther De Caluwé of Dexia told the financial
newspaper 'De Tijd'. As a result, more and more people building a house or buying property are opting for a fixed-rate mortgage. This is slightly more expensive, but it protects borrowers against any future increases in mortgage rates. Other Belgian banks are expected to follow suit - KBC has also announced an increase, but is not sure when it will come into effect. Fortis, the biggest mortgage supplier in Belgium, will also increase its rates, while ING adapts its interest rates on a weekly basis.
Friday, April 14, 2006
A teenager was stabbed by two youths in the busy Brussels Central Railway Station late Wednesday afternoon. The young man was killed for not handing over his mp3 player.
The victim and a friend were waiting for another fiend's train to arrive at Brussels Central Rail Station.
Even during this Easter Holiday period, the ticket hall, that normally sees around 140,000 people passing through every day, was bustling at 4 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon.
Two other youths approached the couple in the ticket hall and attempted to take the victim's mp3 player.
One of the robbers produced a knife and stabbed the teenager when he resisted.
The 17-year-old was taken to Saint Peter's Hospital but died a few hours later from his wounds.
The Brussels Public Prosecutor's Office is currently investigating the case.
Good description of offenders
Police say that a good description of the two culprits has been given by the victim's friend and another witness.
So far there is no sign of the perpetrators, who are thought to be of North African origin, but police are hopeful that the incident was recorded on CCTV.