Friday, March 31, 2006


GP house calls more expensive

Doctors' fees for evening calls between 6 and 9 p.m. will be 22% up, totalling almost 41 euros as from Saturday.
After 9 p.m. the difference totals 25%, which makes a fee of more than 70 euros. This is 14 euros up on the present fee.
House visits on weekend days or bank holidays will cost 5 euros more and will total 46 euros.
If you still have the energy to go to the doctor's yourself, you will also have to pay a bit more, but the difference will be smaller.

Virgin Express-SN Brussels merger

SN Brussels and Virgin Express are to merge into one new airliner. The name of the new airline has not been announced yet.
The two airlines were already part of the umbrella organization SN Air Holding. Throughout 2005, both companies have made their networks compatible. They are ready to become one company now.
SN Brussels was founded after the bankruptcy of Sabena. The airline provides flights throughout Europe and Africa.
Virgin Express has its principal seat in Brussels National airport. The budget airline offers cheap flights to destinations all over Europe.
The new airliner will aim at the target markets of both Virgin and SN. It will continue to offer budget friendly flights with no extras as well as full service flights.
The personnel of both airliners is to be informed on the matter this morning and a news conference is scheduled later today.

International Mobile Roaming

Excessive charges for using your mobile phone abroad could soon belong to the past according to the European Commission. Its updated website of international roaming charges, unveiled today, adds further weight to its proposal to bring down these charges by means of an EU regulation. In some cases, roaming prices have even increased over the past six months: In the UK, one operator has increased the price for roaming from €3.45 to €4.92 when consumers call home across the EU. Lithuanian customers are charged for a four minute call from France between €4.41 and a staggering €12.08. READ ON

Customer Service from RYANAIR

"Jaysus, Mick, that must be the shortestfeckin' runway in the world!""Aye, Paddy, and the feckin' widest!"
A pilot's error caused a Ryanair flight to land at the wrong airport in Northern Ireland.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary says in Brussels on Thursday, "The pilot seems to have made a stupid mistake."
Reuters reports the plane took off from Liverpool, England and was supposed to land in Derry, Northern Ireland. Instead, it landed at a British military base a few miles from Derry.
The airline says in a statement, "Never in our 20-year year history has an incident like this happened."
A Department of Transport spokesman says its Air Accident Investigation Branch is investigating the mistake.
Ryanair has grounded the pilot until their probe in complete.
Buses took the passengers from the military base to the Derry airport.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hooters Air folds its wings

After a moderately successful three-year run, Hooters Air announced Wednesday the airline is ending regularly scheduled passenger service, effective April 17.Many in the industry saw the end coming, especially after Hooters ended holiday service to several cities at the end of last year. High fuel prices are considered the most likely culprit for the airline's failure.From now on, the airline will focus exclusively on charter flights for sports teams and tour groups -- the original businessmodel for Hooters Air operator Pace Airlines, which Hooters founder Bob Brooks purchased in 2002.The end of Hooters comes as a disappointment to several cities still served by the airline, including Myrtle Beach, SC.

Next month, it will be twenty years since the world's worst nuclear disaster took place in Chernobyl. This powerful collection of photos shows the medical, economical and social consequences of the disaster. LINK

One car, three drivers and a lot of alcohol

Police in The Hague fined three drivers within a few hours on Wednesday night for allegedly drink driving. What made the three unusual was they were all caught driving the same car.
The car was stopped for the first time at 2.30am on the Vondelstraat for a routine check. A breathalyser test indicated the 40-year-old driver from Leidschendam was over the alcohol limit. While the police were issuing a fine, the 43-year-old passenger from The Hague took the driver's place at the wheel and sped off. Police caught up with the car a short time later and the passenger-turned-driver also failed a breathalyser test. He too was fined. READ ON

10% of Belgian business' do not file their taxes

10% of businesses in Belgium fail to complete their tax returns. The alarming statistic was aired by Finance Minister Didier Reynders in response to a parliamentary question. The news was broken by the Flemish daily, De Tijd, on Wednesday.
Figures from tax year 2005 show that 38,950 of the 350,000 registered companies in Belgium failed to submit their tax returns. Slightly fewer than 22,000 self-employed persons also neglected to meet their fiscal obligations. READ ON

Taxes are highest in Belgium, Germany and Hungary

Tax charges on employment are in excess of 50% in Belgium, Germany Hungary and France. In contrast, the US recorded 29.1% and Korea just 17.3% in a fresh OECD study. The 'tax wedge,' ie the difference between labour costs to the employer and the net take-home pay of a single-earner employee is the biggest in Belgium (55.4%), Germany (51.8%), Hungary (50.5%) and France (50.1%), a fresh report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reveals. The calculation includes all cash benefits received from government welfare programmes. READ ON

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

New traffic laws start Friday

Belgium's new traffic legislation becomes operational this Friday.
The new law replaces existing legislation that received a lot of criticism because of the "Giant Fines" it introduced.
The fines' system is now being changed. In future the risk created by an offence will be used to measure how high the fine should be.
The introduction of new federal traffic legislation coincides with a new campaign. The campaign is being launched under the slogan: "More dangerous, more expensive".
The so-called "Giant Fines" are being reduced and traffic offences will fall into one of four categories depending on the risk that the offence causes.
In future using the hand-set of your mobile phone at the wheel becomes more expensive, while failing to lock your car will not be fined so severely.
Federal Transport Minister Renaat Landuyt (Flemish socialist) says that in future people will appreciate why they are being fined: "the more risk drivers create, the higher the fine".
Changes to speed fines too
The size of traffic fines is changing too.
Speeding up to ten kilometres over the limit will set you back 50 euros.
Each kilometre you speed above this will cost you an extra five euros. Speeding in urban areas will even cost you ten euros per extra kilometre!
The new law also corrects a number of legal errors contained in the previous piece of legislation.
In future assistant police officers will also be able to issue parking tickets.

EU Finds More Fake Euro Coins, Illegal Workshops in East Europe

The European Union said there may be more than 10 million fake euro coins in existence after uncovering illegal workshops last year in Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland.
The European Commission said 96,000 counterfeit euro coins were removed from circulation last year, an increase of 29 percent from 2004, according to a statement in Brussels today. While that compares with 63 billion genuine coins, the commission said it planned to ``enhance'' efforts to clamp down on counterfeiting. READ ON

In Flanders Fields, a Historical Perspective

The Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) is the most important race on the Belgian calendar. In fact for the Belgian people it ranks above the World Championship RR. Such is its long and storied history, that each year race day grabs national attention in the same way as Super Bowl Sunday in the USA or the World Cup Soccer final. READ ON

1000 WIFI Hot Spots in Belgium and Luxembourg

Boingo Roaming Agreement With Belgium's Telenet Leads to Dramatic Network Expansion in the Heart of Europe. Accord with Leading WISP Will Connect Boingo Users to More Than 1000 Hot Spots in Belgium and Luxembourg including Airports, Train Stations, Conference Centers. Boingo Wireless, the world's leading Wi-Fi network aggregator, today announced a roaming agreement with Telenet N.V., the largest cable operator in Belgium and one of Europe's top wireless Internet service providers (WISP). READ ON

Tuesday, March 28, 2006



The Sequel has to be much more interesting than the original.

Four killed in 'ghost driver' accident

Four people were killed on the A54 motorway between Charleroi and Brussels at about 6.30pm on Sunday in a bizarre accident involving a 'ghost driver'.
A car with French numberplates was being driven in a zigzag fashion when it hit the side-view mirror of a car the male motorist was trying to pass between Luttre and Petit-Roeulx-lez-Nivelles in Henegouwen.
The two cars were then parked in the emergency lane. But before the female motorist could step out of her vehicle, the Frenchman did a u-turn and started driving against the flow of traffic.
Subsequently, a female motorist was forced onto the road shoulder to avoid the oncoming ghost
driver and suffered minor injuries. Her vehicle was severely damaged.
But after 3km, the man in the French vehicle collided head-on with another car carrying a Brussels couple and their seven-year-old daughter.
The mother and father were killed instantly, while the young girl died overnight in Charleroi Hospital. The French motorist was killed instantly in the crash.
Meanwhile, two motorcyclists had to swerve to avoid the collision and ended up in the road shoulder. They suffered minor injuries.


The number of people taking to the streets to catch a glimpse of their cycling heroes has been increasing sharply during the last decade. Last year saw an estimated 600,000 fans turning up.
The busiest places every year are the city of Bruges, where the start of the race takes place, and the small, winding roads combining steep hills with cobble-stone sections in the Flemish Ardennes, in the southern part of East Flanders.

EU Transport Ministers Back Standardized Driver's License

European Union Transport Ministers have given their approval for a standardized European driving license to replace more than 110 different types that are currently in use across the EU.
The agreement is subject to final approval by MEPs later this year.
All motorists across the EU will have to possess one of the new credit card-style licenses by 2032 at the latest. The issuing of new licenses will be obligatory as of 2012.
Permits will be valid for a maximum of ten years, but national governments can extend that period to 15 years.
Licenses for trucks and buses will have to be renewed every five years.

Monday, March 27, 2006

High Noon for the Gun that Won the West

The gun that won the West has one final shot at staying alive.
Eleventh hour efforts to find a buyer for the U.S. Repeating Arms Company are underway tonight, but it's likely the company that built the Winchester rifle for the past 150 years will close this week.
The U.S. Repeating Arms factory in New Haven, Conn., has turned out the Winchester, one of the legendary pieces of American workmanship, since 1856. But in a few days, the production is planning to move overseas.
"Belgium," said Winchester employee Donald Harris. "I mean they probably don't even know where New Haven is." READ ON and watch news video


Eurosceptic MEPs on Friday launched a 'battle for democracy' bus in Brussels intending to "dog the steps of the Commission as it jets around Europe pretending that all is well and the constitution is on track". READ STORY

NATO employs illegals

According to daily newspaper De Morgen, some 250 employees of NATO's Shape base are moonlighting without an official work contract. NATO's Socialist union Secta says the base officially employs 300 soldiers and 120 civilian employees, but that many family members are working "under the table" in base facilities for around five euros per hour.
Secta says that NATO actually encourages the practice by officially firing people but allowing them to continue working. They further allege that both Defense Minister Flahault and Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht have turned a blind eye. The union has filed an official complaint with the labour inspection.

Frenchman speaks English: Chirac 'shocked'

French President Jacques Chirac, stormed out of an EU summit session when the French head of Europe's employer union delivered a speech in English.
Huffed Chirac:
I was deeply shocked that a Frenchman would speak at the council table in English!
When Ernest-Antoine Seilliere, head of the UNICE employers federation, started his speech in English, Chirac interrupted to squeal complaints. But Seilliere explained, "I'm going to speak in English because that is the language of business."
So Chirac and a couple of French bureauweenies marched out "so as not to have to listen to that." They sulked outside until the speech was over.
The Brussels correspondent of Britain's Sun, which coined the nickname "Le Ver," couldn't help but rub it in by presenting Chirac with an English phrase book.
Meanwhile...some postcards from Paris!





Atomium attracts 65,000 visitors in a month

Barely a month after the re-opening of the renovated Atomium, more than 65,000 visitors have passed through one of Brussels' most famous structures.
Atomium organisation chairman Henri Simons said on Friday that 2006 promises to be a very busy year for the monument.
However, construction works are still being carried out and the panorama restaurant is scheduled to open at the start of April.
The restaurant will serve Belgian recipes and will be open from 10am to 6pm every day. From 2007 it will also open at night.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Dutch bakery to say goodby to "Nigger Kisses"

Dutch biscuit maker Van der Breggen has announced its popular chocolate-covered marshmallow biscuits will no longer be known as 'negerzoenen' (Negro or Nigger Kisses). The company, based in Tilburg in the south of the Netherlands, said on Thursday the biscuits will be sold as 'Buys Zoenen' (Buys Kisses) from mid April. The name change is in response to criticism the original name is racist.

Imagine that, an Italian gangster!

Second Agent Charged in Belgian Game Fix
Another agent, Pietro Allatta, has been in jail since Monday on charges of forgery and making threats. He went to police after Belgium issued an international arrest warrant for him last week. READ ON

Drunk bus driver had no driving licence

A Guardia Civil traffic patrol stopped the driver of a coach on its way to Brussels from Almería yesterday with forty Moroccan passengers on board when they saw him making strange gestures while talking on his mobile phone and weaving from one side of the carriageway to the other.
A subsequent breath test revealed that he was seven times over the legal limit, and it later emerged that his driving licence had been suspended until 24th September 2006 by a judge in Almería.
The 53 year old man (RGS) was stopped on the Madrid bound carriageway of the A-4 (km 162) near Manzanares (Ciudad Real) late last night.

Lesbian moves into tennis' No. 1 spot

You're kidding, I would never have guessed. Had to post this due to Yahoos gratuitous headline. READ HERE

Thursday, March 23, 2006

So you want to be a Football Star?

Try this: Puma Football.
Enter your name, then click on "Your Career". You'll see some nice headlines.

Franchise Show at Tour & Taxi Today

As a factor in employment growth, Franchises and Business Networks are seen as real professional opportunities for every entrepreneur, and are designed for both traders and managers or employees looking for career changes. For 10 years now Franchising & Partnership has been striving to promote the sector and to inform the wider public about franchising and other independent networks, to assist brands in recruiting candidates for opening up new points of sale, and to put forward a complete offer stemming from all business sectors.Effective synergy to attract a wider and more numerous public.
To significantly increase the promotion of the fair and to attract targeted and more numerous candidates, Franchising & Partnership 2006 is relocating to Tour & Taxis in Brussels on March 22nd and 23rd of next year and is taking place at the same time as the ‘Salon Entreprendre’ Fair focusing on SMEs, the Liberal Professions and the Self-employed. SHOW WEBSITE

Europe Bans Flying Coffins

A blacklist of unsafe airlines was published by the European Commission on Wednesday. 92 companies face a complete ban and 3 will have their operations restricted. From now on, airlines banned by one member state will be banned in the whole European Union.
Due to a series of recent safety concerns, the European Commission decided to draw up a list to keep dubious airlines out of European airspace. The EU blacklist will not only prevent unsafe airlines from operating in Europe, through its wide publication, the Commission hopes also to dissuade the public from travelling with these airlines in other parts of the world.
click here for the complete blacklist

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

For Every Action...There is a Reaction



This might be how picture one turned into picture two.

There's always hope for the future though. Stringfellows strip club have put the pole into pole dancing by putting ads on existing lamp posts throughout the city.

One of the top 5 sports Injuries

This is a slightly graphic video of the second half of the Villanova/Pittsburgh match up. Star guard Allen Ray gets poked in the eye, causing it to pop out of its socket. Allen was immediately rushed to the hospital to have it re-inserted and is expected to recover fully.
That injury, by the way, has to rank as one of the top-five grossest injuries ever. WATCH VIDEO
His top eyelid was behind his eye! I'm sorry, that's right there with Joe Theismann, Moises Alou, and Willis McGahee. I'm willing to argue it's worse because it was his eye and more impressive because he is back making clutch free throws and NBA-distance threes a week later. It gives me chills just thinking about him telling the story of how the ambulance kept hitting potholes on the way to the hospital in New York.
If you want to rehash, here is some video of Theisman's leg break, noteworthy simply because it might be the only time the guy wasn't talking for more than ten seconds. WATCH VIDEO

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


No self respecting STUD would throw away his meal ticket. WATCH VIDEO

Ireland's "Crack" Habit

Explaining the faux Irish pub revolution. Now that St. Patrick’s Day is behind us, we can consider the scenes of our myriad crimes. Just where did all those Irish pubs come from? From the Irish Pub Company, of course.

"In the last 15 years, Dublin-based IPCo and its competitors have fabricated and installed more than 1,800 watering holes in more than 50 countries. Guinness threw its weight (and that of its global parent Diageo) behind the movement, and an industry was built around the reproduction of ‘Irishness’ on every continent -- and even in Ireland itself."

We could think of much worse things to market. Like Icelandic Snack Huts or French Comedy Houses.

Brussels to Hasten Small Business Startups

Entrepreneurs should be able to start a company within a week anywhere in the European Union by the end of 2007, under a small businesses plan to be adopted by EU leaders in Brussels this week.
The heads of government will commit themselves at a two-day economic summit to create a system of one-stop shops or similar arrangements to allow companies to be set up within seven days.
The summit’s draft conclusions, seen by the FT, say: “Start-up fees should be as low as possible and the recruitment of a first employee should not involve more than one public administration point.”
The commitment will be welcomed by entrepreneurs who complain about the cost and complexity of starting a business in Europe, especially when compared with the US.
The time for starting a business varies widely between member states. The Centre for European Reform, a London think-tank, reports today that start-up times vary from less than two weeks in Denmark, Finland, France, Italy and the Netherlands, to 54 days in Portugal and up to 60 days in Slovenia.
The cost also varies from nothing in Denmark to several thousand euros in Greece, while many members require entrepreneurs to make big cash deposits in a bank before gaining permission to start a business.
Günter Verheugen, EU enterprise commissioner, has admitted that in the past the Union has been too concerned with helping big business and paid too little attention to the needs of small companies.
Mr Verheugen’s spokesman welcomed the draft summit conclusions and said he would be watching to monitor whether member states stuck to their promise.
The commissioner will also be asked at the EU’s economic summit, starting on Thursday, to look at other means to reduce regulatory burdens, such as allowing small and medium- size enterprises more time to comply with new legislation as well as “reduced fees, simplified reporting requirements and exemptions”.
The summit will also commit Europe to a new energy policy, rubber-stamp national reform plans and propose a new European Institute of Technology, but the event is likely to be dominated by a debate on growing protectionism in the Union.
A report by Britain’s House of Lords calls for the completion of the single market and urges the European Commission to crack down on protectionism.
Separately, the Centre for European Reform says in its report on the implementation of the EU’s “Lisbon” economic reform process that Denmark deserves “hero” status.
Italy, Greece and Portugal have a relatively poor record, but Poland is the “villain”.

New Low Cost Airlines at Brussels National

Three new budget airlines are soon to operate from Brussels International Airport at Zaventem (Flemish Brabant).
Virgin Express has, until now, been the sole low cost airline to fly from Zaventem.
This major operator at the international airport is now in for competition from SkyEurope of Slovakia that is expected to start activities here at the end of the month.
A German budget airline, Condor, is also coming to Brussels and from the beginning of April will offer customers a cheaper alternative.
Later in the year, around mid July, a third company, the Czech Republic's, Smart Wings, is also to start cheap services from Belgium's number one airport.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Time to take Mommy and Daddy out of the freezer!

A Frenchman who kept his parents' bodies in deep-freeze caskets for years in hope of one day bringing them back to life, said Thursday he had finally cremated them after the freezer system broke down. READ ON

Not to be outdone, the Canadians have their own macabre horror story.
69 women missing - the remains of 31 found so far The bodies were put in a grinder and fed to pigs. Neighbours ate bacon made from the farm's pigs READ ON

Large Percentage of Belgian Schoolchildren Graduate With No Skills

The number of Flemish children, who leave secondary school with no qualifications, rose dramatically in 2005. Since the year 2000, the number of youngsters leaving school without a diploma had remained stable at around 10%.
However, last year the figure rose to some 12.2% of the total number of school leavers.
The figures were compiled by the Belgian National Institute for Statistics and were published in Saturday's edition of the daily 'Het Nieuwsblad'. 15% of boys and 9% of girls have nothing to show for their time at secondary school.
Furthermore, almost one in three pupils have to repeat at least one year of their secondary education.
New Ostend-Dover line planned
Former staff of the ferry company Hoverspeed have set up a new ferry company. The new company intends to sail fast ferry catamarans between the English port of Dover and three destinations in continental Europe.
Planned destinations include Calais and Boulogne in France and Ostend in Belgium.The first service should be operational in May.
Fast ferries between Dover and Ostend will probably only return next year.
The new shipping company is negotiating the purchase of two Seacat fast ferries. The catamarans were used by Hoverspeed that ended its Calais-Dover service last year.

So, you thought the European constitution was dead, did you?
Two years from now, the European constitution will be in force - certainly de facto and probably de jure, too. Never mind that 15 million Frenchmen and five million swag-bellied Hollanders voted against it. The Eurocrats have worked out a deft way of getting around them. Here's how they'll do it. READ ON

I told you the water was bad in Belgium
Six-legged lamb born in Belgium. A lamb with six legs, four in front and two at the back, has been born on a farm in Belgium, the news agency Belga reported on Sunday. The lamb cannot walk and has to be specially fed.
A veterinary surgeon who examined it was reported as saying he would consider amputating the two superfluous legs to give the animal a normal existence if it managed to survive beyond a week.

Friday, March 17, 2006

All right, kids, the whole Riverdance thing is over. Give it up.

Your investment in your kid's college education!

Keeping with the St.Patrick's day theme, take a look at what your money buys if you are paying for your kid's college edgeukashun these days.
In early 2005 I began to gather ideas and draw up designs for my own automated bar project. By the summer I finalized plans and began to construct the bar framing. By the end of the summer the frame was built and I had basic software written to control the pumps from the computer. At the end of August, with the help of my roommate and Dad's truck I was able to get the bar from my off-campus apartment to new dorm room (where the bar currently resides). The next two months were spent finishing the bar and software and getting everything ready. See plans here


Ministers accused of going AWOL in Brussels for St. Pats Day THE Government has been criticised for missing EU meetings in Brussels this week as ministers disperse for St Patrick's Day events around the world.
"St Patrick allegedly banished the snakes from Ireland. Who banished our ministers from Europe?" complained Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell last night.

Dutch immigrants forced to watch porn! The camera focuses on two gay men kissing in a park. Later, a topless woman emerges from the sea and walks onto a crowded beach. For would-be immigrants to the Netherlands, this film is a test of their readiness to participate in the liberal Dutch culture. If they can't stomach it, no need to apply. READ ON

Czech Budget Airline to Fly to Brussels Czech budget carrier Smart Wings plans to introduce flights between Prague and Brussels in June, the airline said Wednesday. Fare prices will start at 190 koruna (euro6.50; US$8) one way, not including taxes.
Earlier, Smart Wings said it will start services between Prague and Italy's Venice, Spain's Barcelona and Denmark's Copenhagen, also in June. READ ON