Sunday, September 30, 2007

I need a handicapped sticker!

Belgian disabled get access to prostitutes
“It often happens that one of our residents will ask for a prostitute,” said Kris Schauwbroeck, a social worker at Driehuizen home.
“We feel we should grant that request, because the disabled too have the right to their sexuality. And in general the prostitutes have responded positively.” READ THE TELEGRAPH

Saturday, September 29, 2007

White Night season opens and spreads

WHEN Paris held its first Nuit Blanche -- a frenetic all-night, multivenue cultural bash -- in 2002, few could have imagined that five years later White Night fever would be sweeping Europe's capitals, and spreading to other cities.
From Rome, which will hold its fifth White Night on Sept. 8, to Madrid (Sept. 22), Toronto (Sept. 29), Brussels (also Sept. 29), Paris and La Valletta, Malta (Oct. 6) and dozens of other cities, collective insomnia is in, at least for one night a year.
'We all try to respect the rules, but each country does it in its own way,'' said Esther Beck, the main coordinator of the Nuit Blanche in Brussels. ''In Rome and Paris, the budgets are bigger so they tend to have more spectacular events.''

As the festivals have multiplied, in many cases so have the offerings in each city. In Rome, the first White Night festival in 2003 presented 100 events. This year, there are 400.
In Brussels, on the other hand, organizers have taken the opposite tack, halving the events sponsored last year to a neat 100.

Octoberfest in Munich

With the traditional words "O'zapft is!" - "the barrel has been tapped" - the Munich major Christian Ude declared the Oktoberfest 2007 open.

From September 22 to Oktober 10 the world's largest beer festival will attract about six million people who are expected to consume innumerable litres ("Maßkrüge" in Bavarian) of the famous Oktoberfest beer.

In a related item, a German man who had been drinking heavily at Munich's Oktoberfest beer festival got stuck in a chimney for 12 hours while trying to climb into a friend's apartment, police said Friday.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Welcome to Brussels

Every year, thousands of international managers and employees arrive in Belgium. The Welcome Fair has been created for newcomers who need to find an answer to 1001 questions about this country.It is a unique source of information for newcomers and expatriates.
The 14th edition of the Welcome Fair will take place on October 20 & 21, 2007. The Welcome Fair takes place at the Autoworld Museum - Cinquantenaire /Jubelpark - 1000 Brussels
Check the Access information!

So, this bird walks into a store…….

A seagull has turned shoplifter by wandering into a shop and helping itself to crisps.
The bird walks into the RS McColl newsagents in Aberdeen when the door is open and makes off with cheese Doritos.
The seagull, nicknamed Sam, has now become so popular that locals have started paying for his crisps. VIDEO

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Belgium without the Waffle

After more than three months, what has happened to ungoverned Belgium? The sky has not fallen in, the economy is still working, transport still runs and all the usual Flemming and Wallooning continues just as before. As a friend of mine put it to me, if Belgium can manage without a Government, why can’t we?
Of course, the current fascinating situation in Belgium has been brought about by an accident of psephology. But imagine an intentional alternative to our current overbearing, regulation-happy, statist busybodies. Imagine a Government whose manifesto pledged that their default position would not be to legislate and to invasively manage but to do as little as possible.

Divided Belgium

Nice piece on the division of Belgium, with a long comment section that makes for some good reading.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Only this could make Belgian roads look good!

Brussels: the world's nanny

The Economist has a fascinating column this week from Charlemagne, which notes that in the race to become the world's legislator, the US 'presumption of innocence' approach, is slowly being eclipsed by the European Union's 'precautionary principle'

English is second language in Brussels

English has become the second most commonly spoken language in Brussels, according to a study by Philippe Van Parijs, professor at the UCL, La Libre Belgique reported today.
The study shows the rapid spread of English in Brussels. When today's teenagers have finished their language studies, it is probable that the ranking of Dutch, French and English in Belgium will be shuffled.
"English will be the most commonly spoken language in the country, followed by Dutch, and then by French." English is already the second language in Wallonia and Brussels. The second language in Flanders continues to be French.

Post-it...for the little things you forget

Fine Dining at a discount in Antwerp

Eat at some of Antwerp's top restaurants for only EUR 25 during the Antwerp Restaurant Week from 26 November to 2 December 2007. It is the first time this event is being held.
During the Antwerp Restaurant Week some of the best restaurants in greater Antwerp will be serving a three course gastronomical menu for just EUR 25. A three course lunch will cost just EUR 20. At the moment more than 40 top Antwerp restaurants have already confirmed their participation. The final list is expected to include about 50 eateries.
The Antwerp Restaurant Week is an initiative of the online restaurant guide, in cooperation with Feeling magazine and American Express. The idea comes from New York, where the event takes place several times a year with astonishing success.
The organisers also want Restaurant Week in Antwerp to grow into a yearly or half-yearly event. In future DiningCity wants to organise Restaurant Weeks in Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, Knokke, Kortrijk and other Flemish cities.
Reservations for the Antwerp Restaurant Week can be made from 7 November via the website

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

1GB 20 Years Ago vs. 1GB Today

Biggest container ship in Zeebrugge

The largest container ship in the world measures 397 by 56 metres, that's the equivalent of four football pitches after another. The vessel is brand new. It carried empty containers when it arrived at Zeebrugge at 8 a.m. on Saturday.
The ship will now transport empty containers to China. After that, it will start its first commercial sailing.

Border towns to take Maastricht to court

The municipalities of Lanaken, Riemst and Voeren want to take the city of Maastricht to court if it goes ahead with its plan to move coffeeshops closer to the Belgian-Dutch border. The three municipalities have hired a Dutch law firm to represent them.
"Maastricht wants to move the nuisance caused by the coffeeshops to the border municipalities. That violates the Schengen agreements," says mayor Mark Vos of Riemst.
The municipalities are waiting before starting concrete legal action however, explains Lanaken mayor Guido Willen. "Maastricht wanted to move the coffeeshops before the end of the year, but they have since pushed that deadline back. Once the city has taken a definite decision on how to proceed, our lawyer will come into action."
The municipalities have already set aside funds to cover the court costs.

Monday, September 24, 2007

No United States of Europe

I Want a Referendum has launched new adverts calling on Gordon Brown to keep his promise to hold a referendum on the EU's Constitutional Treaty. The ads appear in today's editions of the Sun and the Telegraph. Read the Sun

The euro: to blame for Belgium's crisis?

WILFRIED MARTENS, the former prime minister of Belgium and a grand old man of Christian Democratic politics in Europe, is not the first person to observe that the euro deserves thanks for keeping Belgium calm during the country's current political crisis (103 days without a new government). But he is the best qualified to make this point.
In an interview with La Libre Belgique, Mr Martens recalls being visisted by central bankers from the Belgian national bank, pleading with him to resolve the latest crisis (this was in 1981). Read On

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I hate when that happens!

This has to be one of the oddest photos that I've seen in a long time. It shows a dazed man sat in the cockpit of a plane that has just crashed.
Shortly after take off the pilot issued a mayday and began losing power. It struck a warehouse with it's right wing and crashed metres away from oncoming traffic.
The pilot survived with relatively minor injuries - a broken leg, broken and and a broken nose. Link.
More photos including a larger version of the one above can be found here.

UK invaded by Rednecks

Evidently some American Rednecks have settled in England
Read the Sun work? He could be a STUD

Its pretty much the same attitude Belgium is starting to have about it's royal family.
Back in July El Jueves published a cartoon of Crown Prince Felipe having sex with his wife princess Letizia.

Felipe says, "Have you thought about it, if you get pregnant, this will be the first time in my life I do something that resembles real work?"
Spanish law states that you mustn't insult their Royal Family. If you do you could end up in clink for two years. You wouldn't think there could be such censorship in this day and age - well at least in western Europe.
The funniest thing is, however, that because they banned the cartoon from el jueves, which only has a readership of 80,000, it was instead seen by millions, on the Internet.

Belgian Flags Are Everywhere

IT WOULD be an exaggeration to say Belgian flags have appeared all over Brussels, but turn a corner, and there is just a chance you will see one hanging from a wrought-iron balcony.
It is not just flags. Yesterday, a startlingly substantial crowd turned out to march in a parade to commemorate the martyrs of the Belgian independence movement. This is an annual event, organised by the frankly marginal monarchist group, Pro Belgica, and normally attracts a few heroic old geezers in blazers and medals, a parping police brass band and a sprinkling of followers.

7 year marriage contract?

More innovation from Bavaria. Conservative politician Gabriele Pauli is an authority on marriage: she has been divorced twice. Today she came up with a proposal that will resonate with anyone who has gone through a divorce:
Pauli had earlier raised some eyebrows by posing as a dominatrix for a magazine.
Her idea of the seven-year marriage contract surprised and angered several of her political rivals - including Horst Seehofer, who recently revealed he had a second family in Berlin.
I think she should export the idea to the United States and team up with Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani - a thrice-married Catholic.

Get Bob Dylan to send you a message!

Besides being cool, this is one of the greatest marketing ideas ever. The clever folks at Camp Bob Dylan have come up with a messaging service that lets you send an animated e-postcard on the boards, held and dropped by Bobby D in his Subterranean Homesick Blues video.
As opposed to being some crappy little compilation of stills, it's an animated edit of the iconic video! Click here to send a message... it's worth it! You can even make Bobby hold up rude words! Juvenile... but fun!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Eurostar breaks record on London run

This morning a Eurostar train covered the distance from Brussels to London in 1 hour and 43 minutes. This is twenty minutes less than the previous record.

I need that lunch money!

Flemings give EUR 2.50 to Walloons daily.
I live in Wallonia, so I would just like to take this opportunity to say thanks.
A study by three researchers at the University of Notre-Dame de la Paix in Namur has indicated that EUR 5.6 billion flowed from Flanders to Wallonia in 2005. That comes down to EUR 2.50 a day per Fleming.
The study conducted by Olivier Meunier, Michel Mignolet and Marie-Eve Leurquin showed that every Fleming pays EUR 929 a year to the Walloons. In contrast to this is the fact that in 1949 Flanders had an unemployment rate of 19.5 percent, compared to 5.2 percent in Wallonia.
Namur professor Robert Deschammps says we should not be looking to the past however. He pointed out that if Flanders were to declare independence, "all three regions would see their economic prosperity decline."

Wanna bet on when, or if, Belgium will form a Government?

The Gaming Commission has filed a complaint against gambling site Unibet. The website allows visitors to bet money on the date on which they think a new government will be formed. Unibet insists the betting is entirely legal.
The Gaming Commission however contests this. Betting on events is prohibited, with the exception of sports matches and horse racing.
The gambling site risks a penalty of a 6-month to 5-year suspension and a fine of EUR 100,000. It does not plan to stop the betting in response to the complaint. Unibet says it is acting in accordance with European law.
Unibet's lawyer says the betting is legal, VRT radio reports. Unibet points out that there is no obstacle to organising this kind of betting in other European countries. European treaties ensure that this must also be the case in Belgium, Unibet says.

The Magical Baseball Bat

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Be a Tour Guide is the global-adventure directory brainchild of Jeffrey Goldsmith, formerly of Café Haiku fame.
Simply put, is a place where you can find off-the-beaten-path tour guides or even list yourself as a local expert to travelers. If you know the cafés of Brussels, the beers of Belgium or the bike trails of Wallonia, you can create your own tours and take travelers on your developed area of expertise. Some charge for this service, some do not.
Currently free, the site will include added value services in the near future. Check it out, tell your friends and help make the world a smaller, nicer place—because somos todos amigos.

Belgium for sale on Ebay

Belgium has been without government for 100 straight days already, a long-running crisis that could very well lead to the separation of the nation into Flanders and Wallonia.
But some people don’t lose their sense of humour over it. Somebody has put Belgium up for sale on eBay. Opening price was only € 1, but the current bid amounts to € 10 million euro, almost € 1 per inhabitant.

The kingdom is marked as ’second-hand’ and can be purchased in either 3 parts (Wallonia, Brussels and Flanders) or as a whole (’not recommended’).
I. Flanders - Highly traficated and very heterogeneous architecture (as well art nouveau as spanish hacienda style) , hard working people understanding American english ( due to an overdose of episodes of Dallas), catholic but not fanatic.

II. Brussels - Lively village with nineteen lord mayors and a government on top. The real Babylon with several coexisting minorities.Nice realestate taken by National, Regional and European institutions.

III. Wallonia - First become member of Parti Socialiste which makes it easier in many ways to establish your situation. Has plenty of water ( sometimes sparkling), tons of old iron, acres of woods, several homebrews, ingenious shipptraffic ( The Pending Slope of Roncquiers), The Shape head quarters (tax fee cigarettes!) and German speaking backyard.

Free premium: the king and his court ( costs not included)
Interested buyers have the chance to outbid the € 10 million euro offer until Tuesday next week.

I highly suspect that it might be taken down by Ebay when you read this, so here is a screenshot if the item is removed.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Golf Tournament

The American Club of Brussels is having a Golf Tourney and lunch, at La Tournette, in Nivelles on Saturday the 22nd.
The tourney is open to non members also.

Go to the website for more information

Mannekin Pis drips for prostate awareness

The usual free-flowing stream coming from the Manneken Pis, slowed to a drip Friday to raise awareness about prostate cancer. For passers-by in the Belgian and European capital on what was European prostate awareness day, a banner was set up alongside marked: 'Having trouble urinating? Get your prostate checked in time.'

Friday, September 14, 2007

Medieval Festival

Take a trip back to the Middle Ages at this popular annual event held in the grounds of the Abbaye de Forest in south-west Brussels. The baroque abbey forms the backdrop for a spectacular programme featuring scores of archers, fire eaters, knights, falconers and minstrels. There are also stands selling food and authentic Trappist beers on tap. From 14/09 to 16/09, Abbaye de Forest, Place St Denis 9, 1190 Brussels.


The annual Car-Free Sunday is the perfect opportunity to discover the city in a completely different way. It introduces you to an entirely different urban experience: a city without car horns, revving engines and air pollution. The entire public transport network is free for the day and bikes can be hired at various places, allowing you to get around town easily and enjoy the multitude of special events on offer. The full programme is listed by municipality on the website.

The World viewed by Americans

Click picture to Enlarge

Thursday, September 13, 2007

And you gave up What.....for this?

A simmering sex scandal at the top of the European Commission is set to come to a head with new allegations that could derail Angela Merkel’s coalition Government in Germany.
The Petra Erler and Gunther Verhuegen story gets another airing in The Times this morning. Apparently Bunte magazine in Germany is going to go with the story in their issue today in Germany. All sorts of political ramifications apparently.

I stopped following this story in papers as the Bild was threatening to publish the naked shots and, as Herr Verheugen is, without a doubt, the ugliest person on this planet, and his squeeze comes in a close second, can you imagine what his wife must look like? I was a bit afraid of being scarred for life READ ON

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Belgium: Freedom of Speech in Danger

Flemish protesters grabbed by the balls
But something is missing here.....the reason this protest was banned, was because it would upset the Muslims. Did any show up?...Were they instructed by the gestapo to stay put so Captain Kangaroo (aka Mayor Thielmans) could appease them some more, as his thugs took care of the demostrators???......
Some live video of the (BANNED) demonstration in Brussels yesterday.

Storm Troopers in Brussels?

An eywitness account sent to the Brussels Journal from yesterdays demonstration.
A reader who wants to stay anonymous sent us this witness account of yesterday's SIOE demonstration in Brussels.

I attended the demo in Bruxelles and we were in the city early enough to see the police forming up in various backstreets complete with water cannon and armed reserve units. What are they frightened of?

The police initiated violence without provocation and I personally witnessed and photographed the officer who appeared to be coordinating the assaults on people. This officer was busy throughout the encounter and was seen and photographed maneuvering frequently between groups of uniformed police and communicating with unknown others whereupon he re-directed the troops to another snatch operation against identified targets ... it was fascinating to watch and he became appallingly clumsy, predictable and blase about his nefarious actions - he obviously was having a really thrilling 'boys day out' telling 'the lads' who to pounce on next - a real hardline bully.

I witnessed first hand the un-provoked and un-warranted assaults on peaceful participants and stood near groups of armed officers waiting for their instructions listening to them in 4 separate locations whispering, nodding and calling up attention onto apparently specific participants who were moving around and circulating.

I am convinced the police were there deliberately to target specific individuals as they left many participants alone who clearly were not in their sights - myself included.

The vast array of armed 'stormtroopers' in backstreets and my witnessing of their subsequent initiation of unprovoked assaults against targeted participants leads me to firmly believe there was a counter-agenda. The SIoE demonstration was but a sideshow and Freddy-the-Mayor is just a stalking horse.

What is going on in Belgium? I saw this in East Germany some years ago, Northern Ireland and Chile. But Belgium! What is happening ?

Another Velvet Divorce?

Le Soir, a leading French-language newspaper, devoted three full pages of its Monday edition to the Jan. 1, 1993, breakup of Czechoslovakia, calling it a "civilized and noble settlement" that had a blissful effect on relations between Czechs and Slovaks — and pondering possible similarities for Belgium. READ ON

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9-11 protest goes on anyway

Belgian riot police officers arrest Belgium's far-right party Vlaams Belang's President Frank Vanhecke during a banned demonstration organised by the "Stop the Islamisation of Europe" group in Brussels September 11, 2007. The demonstration, which coincides with the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, was banned by the mayor of Brussels on the grounds that it would threaten public order. ( might upset the Muslims)

The police in Brussels have called on people to avoid the area around the European Parliament and the headquarters of the European Commission. Several hundred people turned up for the 'Stop the Islamisation of Europe' demonstation despite it having been banned by the Mayor of Brussels.
The Mayor of Brussels Freddy Thielemans (Francophone socialist) banned the march admit fears that trouble could flair between demonstrators and members of Brussels' sizable Muslim community.

Protesters turning up for the demonstration were met with a large police presence that used strong arm tactics to disperse them.

Dozens of people, including the Chairman of the far-right Vlaams Belang Frank Vanhecke and the party's leader in the Flemish Parliament Filip Dewinter, were detained and driven away by police. Dewinter protested loudly as he was driven away, adding that it was a democratic demonstration. Meanwhile, Mr Vanhecke told journalists that he couldn't understand why the demonstration had been banned.
The Brussels mayor would not allow these 9-11 protesters to gather but did allow a demonstration of leftwing conspiracy nuts who blame Jews and neocons for the 9-11 attacks to gather on September 9.

Monday, September 10, 2007

US sports on TV

European sports fans no longer consider American baseball, football, college basketball or even NASCAR exotic distractions between soccer games. "The world is flattening out, and we're seeing there's really a large number of people in Europe who have developed an affinity, enthusiasm and knowledge of U.S. sports," says Amory Schwartz, co-founder and ceo of NASN. "These aren't just people wearing Yankee caps because it's cool.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Rolling Stone on "The Great Iraq Swindle"

Rolling Stone has a long article about the vast sums of taxpayer money pouring into the coffers of sleazy US contractors in Iraq -- and how that money isn't being used to make things better for anyone but the ultra-rich in the US.
Because contractors were paid on cost-plus arrangements, they had a powerful incentive to spend to the hilt. The undisputed master of milking the system is KBR, the former Halliburton subsidiary so ubiquitous in Iraq that soldiers even encounter its customer-survey sheets in outhouses.

When things went wrong, KBR simply scrapped expensive gear: The company dumped 50,000 pounds of nails in the desert because they were too short, and left the Army no choice but to set fire to a supply truck that had a flat tire. "They did not have the proper wrench to change the tire," an Iraq vet named Richard Murphy told investigators, "so the decision was made to torch the truck."

Military Heritage Days in Wallonia

Military Heritage days will be celebrated in Wallonia this weekend. Forts and other military buildings will be open to the public free of charge.
Events will start in Bastogne on Friday night with a torchlight parade. Guided walking and bus tours will be available throughout the weekend.

On Sunday at 4pm there will be a concert on Place St-Pierre. For more information on events go to Journees du Patrimone

Thursday, September 06, 2007


I have started an Open Coffee Club in Brussels. In case you’re not familiar with the concept of OCC: it was started in February 2007 when entrepreneur Saul Klein had the idea of organizing regular meetings in a London coffee shop, where entrepreneurs and investors could meet each other in a completely informal setting.
Open Coffee Club is an informal meeting in a friendly setting, where entrepreneurs and investors can get to know each other over a cup of coffee (or a beer).
Expand your network to create alliances, exchange ideas, discuss business ideas and much more!
If you want to be a part of this, please visit and sign up.
Next meeting is scheduled for Thursday September 6th, 5pm, at Café Belga
If you’re really interested in the movement, you might also consider joining the online social network.

Get free Wifi with your Fat Ass

McDonald's has announced that its Belgium restaurants have chosen to offer FREE Wi-Fi in their restaurants. is the world’s largest network of free internet and provides ad-supported wireless internet access in hotels, cafes, restaurants, pubs, petrol stations and other public venues in 16 countries throughout Europe. To gain access to the's free wireless Internet service, users agree to watch an advertisement. also operates a directory of free hotspots, which currently lists more than 16,000 free wireless internet locations worldwide serving to more than 300,000 people each month.

Taxing you...until you buy elsewhere.

I noticed this awhile ago, as we are only 15 miles from France, we do a lot of our big shopping there. I just didn't realise half the country was doing it.

Since the eco tax was implemented in 2003 Belgians have been spending almost 50 percent more in shops across the border, tempted by the lower prices of mineral water and lemonade in France.
De Morgen reports this on Wednesday citing the federation of distributors, Fedis, as their source.
Every year almost 1.1 million Belgians (one in four families) reportedly do their shopping across the border. In total Belgians would annually spend EUR 477 million in cross border shopping, according to Fedis. In 2002, the year before the eco tax was introduced, the amount was EUR 323 million.
Fedis has estimated that due to the implementation of eco tax, 2,200 jobs have been lost in the distribution and production sector . To Fedis this is unacceptable and it wants to file a complaint with the European Commission.

The demise of Belgium would bring this country full circle.

In 1912, Jules Destree, a Francophone Socialist, wrote King Albert I a letter saying his nation - which gained independence from the Netherlands in 1830 - was an artificial nation with no regard for reality on the ground.

Flemings and Walloons are complete opposites, Destree argued.

''What excites one, leaves the other stone-cold ... The Walloon belongs to the Latin civilization, the Fleming to the Germanic culture. We have in Belgium Walloons and Flemings. There are no Belgians, sire.''

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Polish Air Show......not so good


Belgians ride the political cycle

Thousands of Belgian cyclists have encircled Brussels in the 27th annual Gordel, amid political friction between Belgium's linguistic communities.
Dutch speakers gathered from 7am on Sunday for to ride through and around the outer suburbs of Brussels, a largely French-speaking part of Flanders.
The annual Gordel, which is Dutch for "belt", has a strong political element this year, as divisions grow between Francophone and Dutch-speaking Belgians.
"I've come for some sport but also for a bit of politics," said one participant."I'm not a separatist but we can't just let ourselves be taken advantage of."
Many of the cyclists wore yellow jerseys emblazoned with the Flemish lion, while stickers of the same stamp adorned their bicycles.
Members of the Vlaams Belang party, which supports Flemish independence, distributed sweets to participants.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Forrmula 1 Racing in Belgium

The Formula 1 circuit comes to Belgium, at Spa on September 14-16.
Considered by many to be the best circuit on the F1 calendar, Spa has the longest lap length of all, and is certainly one of the most scenically situated, surrounded by wooded hillsides and small farms. It is also renowned for its changeable weather. (who would have thought..huh?)

Be prepared for sticker shock!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Belgium Leads the Pack in Housing Price Rise

Forget the sunny climes of Spain and Portugal. The European country that experienced the biggest leap in housing prices in the last year was Belgium, according to a new report by Halifax, the U.K. banking and insurance company.
Belgium showed an 18 percent increase in prices, compared to a 15 percent for France and a 14 percent increase for Spain, the study found. (And it’s worth noting that Halifax showed a larger growth spurt for Spain than other studies.)
Over the last five years, Spain led the way with a 100 percent increase in prices, but the U.K. was not far behind with a whopping 90 percent jump, followed by France at 73 percent and Ireland at 71 percent.
Germany was the only country to show a decline in prices in the last five years.

According the report—which can be found here—Ireland boasts the highest average price in the Eurozone–£209,300 (€309,800)—followed by the Netherlands with an average of £190,900 (€282,500). The average in the U.K. was £187,100 (€276,900), compared to £150,200 (€222,300) in Spain.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Air Traffic Europe

Look at all the zillions of planes coming in and going out, they look like little grubs on the screen.

International media are gradually beginning to take notice of the crisis in Brussels

Yesterday Joshua Keating wrote a piece on the blog of the American journal Foreign Policy about the “simmering ethnic tensions” in Belgium. Keating notes that “If nothing else comes from this, it should certainly give EU diplomats some pause before chastising Albanians and Serbs, Palestinians and Jews, or Sunnis and Shiites for failing to coexist.

In 2004 the economic output per person in Flanders was 124% of the EU average, in Wallonia it was but 90% of the EU average. Today the Walloon business paper L’Echo writes that if Wallonia loses the Flemish subsidies, amounting to 3.3 billion euros, this would cost every Walloon 1,000 euros per year. Brussels, Belgium’s bilingual capital, receives 0.2 billion euros from Flanders each year, or 200 euros per citizen. Some Walloons suggest that if pro-market Flanders secedes from Belgium Socialist-dominated Wallonia cannot survive and will have to join France. 40% of the active population in Wallonia works for the government (compared to “only” 25% in Flanders) and 20% is unemployed (7% in Flanders).

Meanwhile, the Walloon Parti Socialiste, traditionally the dominant party in Belgian politics, is embroiled in a corruption scandal involving Pierre-Dominique Schmidt, Belgium’s ambassador to France. France is Belgium’s most powerful neighbour. If the country falls apart, the role of France will be pivotal. The position of Belgian ambassador to Paris is a privilege of the PS. Belgian diplomats need the patronage of a political party. As a rule the position in Paris is bestowed on a diplomat who is a PS party member. He is one of the most important ambassadors in Belgium.

Last Wednesday the Flemish weekly
P-Magazine revealed that Ambassador Schmidt had forged Foreign Office documents in order to obtain bank loans to pay for his luxurious life style. The ambassador has been throwing regular private disco parties costing up to 75,000 euros. Ambassador Schmidt is a homosexual and a friend of PS leader Elio Di Rupo, the president of the Walloon Regional Government. According to P-Magazine, Mr. Di Rupo, who is also a homosexual, attended some of Schmidt’s parties. The magazine writes that the Belgian embassy in Paris is known at the Belgian Foreign Office in Brussels as ‘la cage aux folles,’ after a French 1978 movie about a homosexual couple that runs a nightclub featuring drag entertainment.