G4S defrauds Belgian taxpayers

This 12 July 2013 British TV video says about itself:

G4S to be the subject of fraud probe

They’ve been accused of overcharging the government tens of millions of pounds for electronic tagging contracts: now the Serious Fraud Office has been called in to investigate private security firm G4S.

That was then in Britain. And now, in Belgium …

Translated from Belgian (conservative) daily De Standaard, 16 June 2020:

Just before the [coronavirus] lockdown, the Belgian Competition Authority (BMA) started a thorough and large-scale investigation into abuses in the security sector. The file revolves around illegal market practices by the main players: G4S, Securitas and Seris. The study also includes Jean-Paul Van Avermaet, until recently G4S country manager, and the [governmental postal service] Bpost CEO since 13 January.

One of the possible injured parties in the file is Van Avermaet’s current employer: the Belgian government. In recent years, it has increasingly appealed to security firms. Since the terrorist attacks, their importance has increased and they are increasingly acting as an extension of the police.

A new private security law was even introduced. This entailed new tasks for the sector and was described as “the Jambon Act”.

Banks and Zaventem airport also often use the services of security firms, as do many retail companies and organizers of mass events. They all belong to the possibly injured parties.

The security firms are suspected of overcharging their services for years. They are said to not only have made price agreements, but also agreements about price increases and the charging of costs. They are also said to have been guilty of dividing the market between them.

Belgian prince gets coronavirus at Spanish party

This June 2014 video says about itself:

Prince Joachim of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este (Joachim Karl-Maria Nikolaus Isabelle Marcus d’Aviano, born 9 December 1991), Prince Imperial of Austria, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia, Prince of Modena, is the third child of Prince Lorenz, Archduke of Austria-Este and Princess Astrid of Belgium. He studied for a “Bachelor of International Economics, Management and Finance” from September 2011 at Bocconi University in Milan.

I wonder how many people in the Austrian republic, in the Hungarian republic, in Bohemia in the Czech Republic and in Modena in the Italian republic, know that this Belgian Prince Joachim is their ‘real’ sovereign 🙂

Today, Dutch NOS radio reports (translated):

Belgian prince infected after ‘party’ in Spain

Belgian Prince Joachim has tested positive for the coronavirus. King Philip‘s nephew may have been infected after a party at a house in Córdoba, Belgian media report. It is not clear with how many people he attended the party in Spain and whether the meeting was allowed at all, the Flemish broadcaster VRT reports. A day after the party, he showed the first symptoms of corona.

This looks like a ‘Flu Klux Klan‘ style party for rich people; similar to the one at which Belgian police fined extreme right MP Van Langenhove.

The Belgian royal family only confirms to Flemish broadcaster VRT that Joachim had traveled to Spain last week. This concerned “a professional relocation, for an internship in a corporation”. The 28-year-old prince will stay in Spain in the near future; he is in isolation.

According to correspondent Rop Zoutberg, the matter is far from over. The news of the prince’s contamination is headline news in Spain, he says. Possibly because the prince violated coronavirus measures, such as the quarantine obligation [on arrival] in Spain. And there are said to have been 27 people at the party, while in Córdoba a maximum of 15 people can gather.

“It’s a bit like the story of Cummings, in England. The whole country is locked down. No one is allowed to travel. And then some princeling thinks those rules don’t apply to him,” says Zoutberg. The Spanish authorities have now launched an investigation into what exactly happened. If it will turn out that rules have been broken, the fines can amount to 600,000 euros.

Belgian far-right politician spreads COVID-19

This 7 September 2018 Dutch language video with English subtitles from Belgium says about itself:

The two faces of Schild & Vrienden: right-wing movement includes secret group full of racism, sexism and weapons.

They are neat and articulate, the members of the right-wing radical movement Schild & Vrienden. Founder Dries Van Langenhove is the representative of that. Our reporting magazine “Pano” followed him since the beginning of this year, but the editors also managed to infiltrate their secret chat groups. More than 65,000 messages could be viewed. It looks completely different: explicit racism, sexism and photos with weapons are no exception. How dangerous is the Schild & Vrienden movement really?

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

The police in Ghent has arrested [extreme right party] Vlaams Belang MP Dries Van Langenhove (27) during a prohibited party breaking anti-COVID-19 rules. This is reported by the Belgian daily Het Nieuwsblad. The party is said to have taken place on Thursday evening, with twelve present. …

According to the newspaper, Van Langenhove will be fined 250 euros.

On 14 March 2020, Van Langenhove on Twitter had denounced Belgians having parties breaking anti-COVID-19 rules.

Here, a sarcastic tweet on Van Langenhove’s recent arrest.

Rare eagle-owls nest in flowerpot

This 18 May 2020 video, recorded in Belgium, says about itself:

Man shares apartment with family of huge owls | Vroege Vogels

We could hardly believe it when we got a message from Jos Baart telling us that Europe’s biggest owl, the Eurasian eagle-owl, had made a nest in a planter in front of his window. Not only that, she had also hatched three giant chicks! Now, when he watches television, three huge chicks watch television with him.

Vroege Vogels is a Dutch radio and television show about nature, environment, climate and animal welfare.

Most Belgian bosses risk workers’ coronavirus contagion

This 26 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Coronavirus Is Spreading Through Amazon’s Warehouses In The US | Mashable News

The news comes after more than 1,500 Amazon warehouse workers started a petition asking the company to take more precautions to protect them from the virus.

Translated from the (conservative Roman Catholic) daily De Standaard in Belgium today:

85 percent of audited companies do not adhere to corona measures: “This really should not continue”

Inspections of about 328 companies in the past two weeks have shown that 280 businesses do not adhere to the corona measures. This is evident from figures requested by the Green opposition party. …

From the figures requested by Green MP Evita Willaert, it turns out that the Inspectorate for Well-being at Work (TWW) registered 704 corona-related complaints in the period from March 23 to April 3. The service also carried out 750 remote checks, by which a checklist is gone over by telephone. In 85 percent of companies, staff did not follow the rules and insufficient distance was kept between them.

MP Evita Willaert (Groen) reacted indignantly to Radio1: “In 85 percent of the cases where inspection came, they had to give a warning. In 20 cases it was also decided to close company halls. 85 percent, you really can’t do that. That’s way too much.”

52 employers were also given a period to comply and one company received a misdemeanour police citation.

“People play games with the health of all employees by being so lax with the guidelines”, says Willaert.

Belgium: Faced with this, social struggles have multiplied in many enterprises (Audi, Volvo, Decathlon, Leonidas, Neuhaus, Brice, Bombardier, Safran Aero, Sonaca, Arcelor and many others) where protests and work stoppages have forced the National Security Council to tighten the screws on certain companies and sectors. The union leaderships have agreed with the bosses to establish a list of essential sectors where work can be authorized with fewer – and therefore more dangerous – measures of social distance. This list includes sectors that make sense (food, pharmacies and health care for example) but the devil is in the detail. For example, all petrochemicals are considered ” essential “, including those used to make perfume or plastic gadgets: here.

Belgian anti-Big Pharma doctor Van Duppen, RIP

This video is about the presentation of Dirk Van Duppen’s last book in the Roma theatre in Antwerp, Belgium on 9 February 2020.

Translated from Belgian (right-wing Roman Catholic) daily De Standaard today:

Doctor and politician Dirk Van Duppen (63) passed away

Dirk Van Duppen, one of the prominent doctors of Medicine for the People, passed away on Monday evening. [His leftist political party] PVDA confirms this. Van Duppen had been suffering from cancer for some time.

Van Duppen became known to the general public as the ‘communist general practitioner’ (because of his PVDA membership), an ardent advocate of Medicine for the People and as the creator of the kiwi model. In it, governments have to issue public offers for medicines and only reimburse the cheapest bidder. Van Duppen was not a fan of the big pharmaceutical companies throughout his life. “A sick business model,” he called it. “I have to push on it or nothing will change.”

At the beginning of this year he was still on the stage of the Roma [theatre in Antwerp] to present his new and also last book: “This is how the time allotted to me went.” Van Duppen already knew that he was terminal. He was diagnosed with an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer last year. Monday night he lost the fight at the age of 63.

Also from De Standaard. 15 February 2020:

“I see that my life has made sense”

A Marxist who hates dogma. A doctor who works for a worker’s wage. A terminally ill man who is hopeful. Dirk Van Duppen, figurehead of Medicine for the People and PVDA politician, is it all. An adieu. “Not many people are lucky enough to be able to go to their end like this.”

By Ann-Sofie Dekeyser

Sunday 9 February, 5.15 pm. “O bella ciao, ciao, ciao! / O partigiano, portami via / ché mi sento di morir.” The Roma in Borgerhout is filled to the brim. The venue was sold out in three days. 1,350 people are standing. Some put their left fists in the air, others wipe away a tear. They sing the partisan song full heart. The translation on the red screen does not allow any misunderstandings. “Oh comrades, take me / Because it feels like I’m dying.”

Translated from the site of Van Duppen’s PVDA party, 31 March 2020:

He devoted his life to the most noble cause: caring for others. “In the struggle of life, you’ll find more love. And in the struggle, you will be loved also “, he liked to quote Woody Guthrie‘s famous song. Happiness was for him: being able to mean something to others. …

As chairman of Medicine for the People, he tirelessly went to war against the scheming of Big Pharma and launched the kiwi model for affordable medicines. “Health should not be a commodity on the market. Healthcare must be public, high-quality and accessible”, he argued. That couldn’t be more topical today.

Dirk recognized the dockworkers’ back ailments as an occupational disease, earning him the honorary title of “straight-backed doctor”. But Dirk was also an activist for healthy air. He helped prevent the construction of the Lange Wapperbrug in Antwerp.

That bridge would have generated much air pollution by cars.

And as a PVDA city councilor, he mobilized the people of Antwerp against the water shutoffs by the Antwerp local authorities.

Again anti-Semitism controversy at Aalst, Belgium carnival

Aalst, Belgium carnival float with 'gold Wailing Wall', EPA photo

This EPA photo shows a carnival group in Aalst, Belgium dressed as vermin and walking along today with a ‘golden’ ‘Wailing Wall‘ in this year’s parade.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Jewish caricatures again at carnival parade in Aalst, criticism of ‘hate festival’

Carnival celebrators in Aalst today have mocked the indignation about Jewish stereotypes during the annual carnival parade in the Belgian city. Last year there was a lot of criticism of a carnival float with dolls of stereotypical orthodox Jews with hook noses and money bags.

In this year’s parade, carnival society Lossendeirdeveirdeirdeir showed a ‘humour tribunal’ on its float, with a Jewish caricature with long toes at the front.

In Dutch, the expression ‘lange tenen’ (long toes) means that someone is easily offended by trivial things.

A group also walked with a ‘wailing wall’ of gold bars. Members of the group were dressed as insects and wore ringlets hair and shtreimels, fur hats worn by orthodox Jews.

“More painful than last year”

The parade immediately led to fierce criticism from the Jewish community. Eg, the European section of the American Jewish Committee calls on the European Unity to investigate Belgium because the country has allowed the “hate festival”.

Depicting Jews as vermin is reminiscent, according to the organization, of dehumanizing Jews, as happened in the Nazi era. “My stomach turns around”, Ronny Naftaniel, chairman of the Jewish Humanitarian Fund, tweeted about the procession in Aalst.

The Belgian Forum of Jewish Organizations called the caricatures in this year’s parade “even more painful” than last year’s. “At that time we could still think that it might not have been the intention to insult, but now they are doing a bit more. That really defies all imagination,” said a spokesperson for the umbrella organization to newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.

The controversial dolls with hooked noses and ringlets hair that last year led to the carnival in Aalst being scrapped from the UNESCO list of intangible heritage were on display again today. This year the dolls were on a car with other caricatures in a kind of shooting gallery.

[Mayor of Aalst] D’Haese [of the ‘centre-right’ N-VA party]: “I have not seen any manifestations of racism or anti-Semitism”.

Belgian parade features costumes of haredi Jews with insect bodies: here.

Carnival parade in Spain features Nazi uniforms, trains with crematoria. February 25, 2020. By Cnaan Liphshiz.

Brown shrike in Belgium, first ever

This 25 October 2019 video from Heist in Belgium says about itself:

NEW FOR BELGIUM: Brown Shrike – Lanius cristatus

The first Brown Shrike for Belgium ever, a spectacular adult male!

Translated from Belgian daily De Standaard today:

The brown shrike was spotted in Heist on Friday, reports Natuurpunt. It is the first time that the bird is seen in Belgium.

On Friday bird watchers discovered a brown shrike in Heist. This brings the number of bird species found in Belgium to 452.

The species is originally from East Asia. In 1985 a specimen was discovered for the first time in Europe, more specifically in Great Britain. Later the bird was also noticed in other European countries, such as Denmark, Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Norway, Spain and Sweden.

In the Netherlands, the species has been spotted four times, the first time in January 2014, the last two times this month. The species was also seen in France and Sweden, and it was this species’ first time in North America this year.

Other species

It is not the first rare bird species that was detected in Belgium last month. On the coast, for example, an isabelline wheatear, a Pallas’s grasshopper warbler, a red-eyed vireo and a Daurian shrike could already be noticed.

Why such species are seen in Belgium is not entirely clear, but according to Natuurpunt it is not surprising that they are discovered in the coastal area. The North Sea forms a natural barrier that most songbirds do not like to fly over, and in the harbour area there is bright light at night that attracts the birds.

Belgian climate strikers-yellow vests together against repression

This 12 October 2019 Voice of America video about Belgium says about itself:

Police Make Mass Arrests in Brussels During Climate Protest

Belgian police arrested large numbers of climate protesters in Brussels, Saturday, October 12, as mass demonstrations by the Extinction Rebellion group entered a sixth day.

Dozens of arrests were made while demonstrators gathered around a pink boat, with at least one climate activist using a bike lock to attach himself to the vessel. Police officers at the scene used heavy-duty cutting tools to remove the lock from around the man’s neck before arresting him.

Earlier in the day activists staged a protest next to the gardens of the Royal Palace calling on the King to declare a climate emergency. (Reuters)

Translated from Belgian daily Het Nieuwsblad, 15 October 2019:

Climate truants and Yellow Vests now want to demonstrate together against police violence

By Cedric Lagast

Brussels – The “Students for Climate” and the Yellow Vests want to come together on Monday in Brussels to protest against police violence. The reason is not only the tear gas incident last Saturday, but also the arrest of 350 Yellow Vests on election Sunday.

United Against Police Violence“. Under that name, eight organizations are announcing a rally in the capital on Monday. They want to go to the Brussels Grand Place, where the city council meeting should start at that time.

“We have taken the initiative and have invited a number of other groups,” says Yuni Mertens of Students For Climate. He refers to an incident last Saturday, in which a handcuffed man still got pepper spray in his face during a protest by climate movement Extinction Rebellion.

“After the shocking images, we felt it was necessary to raise this issue,” says Mertens. “We cannot accept this in a democratic constitutional state such as Belgium. This issue is not new. Many groups and minorities do experience this repression. We want to raise the issue of police violence in general. That is why we also let those other groups speak about their experience with the police, which is never mediatised.”

Together with Yellow Vests

Remarkably, one of those other groups is the Yellow Vests. …

On Facebook, reference is made to the arrest of 350 Yellow Vests on 26 May, the day of the elections.

“During an announced and peaceful demonstration, to demand more social justice, the Yellow Vests were preventively arrested.”

“We are organizing a standing, peaceful demonstration as close as possible to the Brussels city hall where the city council is taking place on Monday,” says Mertens. “We ask the mayor to treat non-violent demonstrators also non-violently in the future.”

Mayor must decide

“We have received a request today, Tuesday,” confirms police spokeswoman Ilse Van De Keere. … It is Mayor Philippe Close who must ultimately decide whether the demonstration can go ahead.”

French police promise investigation after video shows Yellow Vest man hit in the eye by tear-gas grenade: here.

Belgian right-wingers: ‘Kill pro-climate girls, kill Jews’

This 17 August 2019 Dutch language video shows a reporter of Belgian Knack weekly. She interviews (drunk) far-right visitors of the Pukkelpop music festival. They shout: ‘Leftist rats, fuck off!’

On 15 August 2019, 18-year-old Belgian pro-climate activist Anuna De Wever had been invited to speak at Pukkelpop, one of many music festivals in summer in Belgium, to speak on the 20-27 Sepember global pro-climate strikes.

However, during her speech, a group of far-right men booed and heckled her, made obscene gestures, and threw alcohol at her.

The far-right men had flags depicting the Flemish lion.

The official flag of Flanders depicts a lion with red claws and red tongue. However, the men at the festival had flags with a black lion with black claws and black tongue. Wikipedia writes about that version:

It is not an official symbol. It was, however, used by the Flemish fighting alongside Nazi and SS troops [in World War II], and is as such also known as the collaboration [with Hitler] flag. It is today used by right[-wing] movements.

In this tweet, journalist Jeroen de Preter of Belgian Knack weekly writes about what happened next at Puppelpop. Translated:

About Pukkelpop and Anuna De Wever. Now, my daughter calling on the phone, very upset. After Anuna had been spotted at their tent, young men have stopped them from sleeping with death threats, thrown bottles full of urine at them and destroyed their party tent. Security is protecting them now.

The right-wingers also tore open several other tents as they thought Anuna De Wever might sleep there.

Security later reported they had banned the extreme right version of the Flemish flag at the festival. These flags had been distributed by the racist Vlaams Belang party.

Vlaams Belang youth branch

This photo shows members of the Vlaams Belang youth branch.

Vlaams Belang, like Donald Trump and other right-wingers deny climate change and support Big Oil.

Politicians of Vlaams Belang and also of the ‘moderate Flemish nationalist’ N-VA were very angry that the Pukkelpop organisation had banned the far-right version of the Flemish flag. They talked only about these flags, not what the men of these flags had done to teenage pro-climate girls.

Belgian (‘center-right’) daily De Gazet van Antwerpen, 20 August 2019, interviewed Robert Kaerts about what his 17-year old daughter went through at Pukkelpop. Kaerts is upset that politicians like Peter de Roover (N-VA) do not seem to care about what happened to those 17-year-old girls.

The far-rightists surrounded the girls’ tents all night. They tore open tents to find Anuna de Wever, one of them laid down on top of a girl, they shouted ‘green whores’, ‘kill Anuna’, ‘kill all Jews‘, they threw bottles full of urine, they tore up the party tent.

In spite of security protection, during the next night, there was again an attack on the party tent, and a bucket full of urine was put outside the girls’ tent. Robert Kaerts: ‘I cannot stop racking my brains about what would have happened if they would have succeeded in finding Anuna’.

See also here. And here.