Belgian xenophobic mayor’s ‘musical’ anti-Roma plan backfires


This video says about itself:

French Roma expulsions spark racism warning

19 August 2010

After destroying their homes and giving them $383, France is flying 700 Roma people to Romania and Bulgaria.

The government has been dismantling Roma settlements, saying they were havens for illegal trafficking, child exploitation, begging and prostitution.

But Romania’s foreign minister says he’s worried France’s action is creating xenophobia.

Al Jazeera’s Estelle Youssouffa looks at the man leading the French drive for security and public order.

By Evan Bartlett in British daily The Independent:

A plan to remove a group of Roma Gypsies by playing loud music backfired on a town mayor when the group responded by dancing.

Gino Debroux, the mayor of Landen – a small town 30 miles from Brussels in Belgium – had resorted to the measure yesterday after claiming the Roma had outstayed their agreed tenancy on a private plot of land.

He hired a local DJ to play music up to 95 decibels – the equivalent of a pneumatic drill from 50 feet away – but his choice of Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits as a first song did not have the desired effect as children from the camp broke out into a small jig.

This music video is called Dire Straits – Sultans Of Swing.

“I want to thank the mayor,” one camp resident told Reuters. “It’s very nice that he sent a DJ for us to have a party.”

See also here.

Grass snake expansion in Flanders


This video is called Britain in COLD BLOOD – The Grass Snake (Natrix natrix).

Translated from Knack weekly in Belgium, 7 July 2014:

The grass snake is on the rise in Flanders. The snake which until recently did not live in Flanders has been observed 27 times since the beginning of this year. VRT TV reports this.

The grass snake hibernates and lays its eggs inter alia in compost heaps. Probably the animal was brought from Germany with compost and the snake came to Limburg province that way.

Squirrel-magpie conflict about nuts, video


This is a video about a conflict between a red squirrel and a magpie about nuts.

The video is by Jos Bleyweert in Genk in Belgium.

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Wounded harbour porpoise recovering


This video says about itself:

Harbour porpoise rescued

Theodore the harbour porpoise is on the road to recovery. Kylie Stanton reports. July 26, 2012.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Porpoise recovering well after surgery

Monday, May 19, 2014, 13:35

A severely injured young porpoise was successfully operated in Harderwijk. The animal, after months of intensive care is expected to be able to go back to sea soon.

In February, the porpoise washed up on the beach at the Belgian Koksmuide. It had been bitten by another animal, probably a fox. The mammal was badly wounded on its side and elsewhere.

Night and day

The porpoise was emaciated and did not seem to be able to make it. The animal was transferred to the SOS Dolphin Foundation in Harderwijk. The injuries were so severe that he could not swim independently. During the first weeks volunteers of the Foundation have supported the porpoise night and day in the pool where it stayed.

The wounds were treated with a special honey salve. But there were complications. It was found that two small pieces of bone stuck out near a fin. A specialized veterinarian has successfully removed the bones, which is unique in the Netherlands.

Though the fins are slightly shortened now , the porpoise seems not to care. “He’s staying with a number of stranded porpoises in a basin, but we actually see no difference in swimming behavior between him and the other animals,” said a spokesman for SOS Dolphin.

This harbour porpoise was called Sjors (George).

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Report swifts in Britain


This is a video about swifts building their nest in Essen, Belgium.

From Birdwatch Magazine in Britain:

Eyes to the skies for swifts

Posted on: 08 May 2014

The RSPB is asking the public to record any Common Swifts they see swooping across Britain this spring and summer.

With their long scythe-like wings and their high-pitched screeching sound, swifts are one of the most visible and audible birds in our skies at this time of year. They are superb fliers and travel up to 6,000 miles from Africa to Britain and Ireland every summer to raise their chicks. Over the course of their journey from Africa they never touch the ground, which explains their generic name Apus, which translates as ‘without feet’.

Sadly, swifts are now on the Amber list of Birds of Conservation Concern, as their breeding population has fallen by more than a quarter over the past 25 years. The reasons for this decline remain unclear, but loss of nesting sites is a possibility. Swifts often nest in holes old buildings, but as a result of renovations these can be blocked up or even destroyed.

Claire Barnett of the RSPB said: “It is known that swifts nest throughout Britain in our villages, towns and cities, but we need the public’s help to identify exactly where. The scream of the swift marks the start of summer for many. Swifts will return to the same nesting site every year to raise their chicks, but once it fledges it may not land for another four years, eating, drinking and sleeping on the wing.

“It is devastating that swifts are declining at such a rapid rate, and it’s important that we know where they are nesting so we can work with home and business owners, and builders and developers to help protect them.”

If you see swifts this year anywhere in Britain, then the charity wants to hear from you. The RSPB is particularly asking for records of low-flying screaming parties of swifts, which indicates they are breeding in the area. You can add your records to the online RSPB Swift Inventory at www.rspb.org.uk/applications/swiftsurvey.

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Belgian anti-Semites stopped


This video from Belgium is about Voorpost and VMO, extreme right paramilitary organisations linked to the Vlaams Blok party (new name: Vlaams Belang).

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Brussels police disperse baying anti-Semites

Monday 5th May 2014

RIOT police in Brussels used water cannon yesterday to disperse a crowd defying a ban on a gathering of controversial far-right figures which critics called an “anti-semitic hatefest.”

Citing a threat to public order, Brussels district of Anderlecht Mayor Eric Tomas had banned both the meeting and any protests connected to it.

But organisers of the European Dissidents’ Congress, a right-wing extremist group called Debout les Belges, urged supporters to gather for “a surprise,” sparking the standoff with riot police.

Several hundred people who had planned to attend the meeting gathered in Anderlecht, watched by a line of riot police, while the organisers appealed to Belgium’s top administrative court, which did not immediately rule.

“It’s over. Everyone should disperse calmly,” said Laurent Louis, the far-right MP and founder of Debout les Belges, after police forcefully broke up the crowd of about 500 protesters without making arrests.

Businessman-cum-politician Laurent Louis started his political career in the centre-right “Liberal” (economically pro-big business) party of French-speaking Belgium, part of the government coalition. After several quarrels, Louis founded the extreme right Debout les Belges.

The event was to bring together a string of far-right figures, including so-called comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, who has faced repeated accusations of anti-semitism, Holocaust denial and incitement to racial hatred.

Organisers had kept the venue a secret until the last moment to prevent it from being closed down and immediately challenged the ban before Belgium’s state council and around 200 rightwingers rallied in Anderlecht early on Sunday afternoon, many performing the infamous quenelle gesture which opponents have characterised as a neonazi salute.

The Belgian League against anti-Semitism had filed a complaint before the Brussels prosecutor on Friday against what it called “a day of hate, that would serve as a platform for the worst gathering of anti-semitic authors, theorists and propagandists that our country has seen since the end of World War II.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre rallied behind the calls for a ban.

“The fact that this hatefest is to be held in Brussels, the capital of Europe, the seat of its Parliament … is a threat to democracy reminiscent of the 1920s Weimar Republic, which brought Europe to the nazi abyss,” centre director for international relations Shimon Samuels warned.

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Dutch people lose faith in churches


This video says about itself:

6 September 2010

This is an interview with Gary Bergeron, clergy abuse survivor, aired on VRT Belgian/Dutch TV.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Less and less confidence in church

Update: Monday 28 May 2014, 07:33

Trust of Dutch people in churches is the lowest now for the last twenty years. Especially among Roman Catholics trust in the church between 2008 and 2010 declined strongly, says the Social and Cultural Planning Office.

The number of church members has declined from 75 percent of the population in 1958 to 30 percent in 2012. Even fewer people go to church. In the 1980’s 17 percent went to the church every week. Now that is still 10 per cent.

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