Cyclist Van Avermaet wins online Tour of Flanders

This 5 April 2020 video says about itself:

De Ronde Lockdown Edition: Tour of Flanders Virtual Race LIVE On GCN Racing

With the Ronde van Vlaanderen unable to take place in 2020, 13 pro riders, including defending Tour Of Flanders champion Alberto Bettiol, and young sensation Remco Evenepoel, go head-to-head on a virtual 30km course, taking in the final 3 climbs of the real-life Ronde. Flanders Classics teamed up with technology partner Bkool & Kiswe for this unique alternative to the race, join us LIVE for the virtual monument.


Because of the coronavirus, there are now hardly any sporting events anywhere.

However, cyclists, who now cannot cycle on roads, can ride on home trainers at home.

So, today, there was an online Tour of Flanders.

The winner was Belgian Olympian road race champion Greg Van Avermaet.

Second was Oliver Naesen from Belgium. Third, Nicolas Roche from Ireland.

The Tour of Flanders result, copyright Flanders Classics

There will be more online cycling.

From 22 to 26 April 2020, there will be the Digital Swiss 5.

This 27 March 2020 video from Switzerland says about itself:

WORLD PREMIERE: THE DIGITAL SWISS 5 – Tour de Suisse, ROUVY and Velon start the first digital race with the best pro teams in the world.

All information about the 5 races in April: here. …

Bauke Mollema, Trek-Segafredo, said: “I have great memories from Tour de Suisse including a stage win in 2013 and a 2nd, 3rd and 5th place in GC. I love riding in the mountains and on Swiss roads. I was looking forward to racing again, but obviously this is uncertain at the moment. To stay in shape and keep competitive form, I am riding a lot of hours on our Saris Smart Trainer, but I never actually participated in a virtual race. It seems like a great way to stay fit and test my condition against other pro riders. See you online!”

All the teams that would have participated in the real Tour of Switzerland have been invited to participate with three cyclists each.

Jumbo-Visma and many others have already reacted positively.

This photo shows Dutch Jumbo-Visma rider Robert Geesink on his home trainer at home in Andorra.

This photo shows Dutch Jumbo-Visma rider Steven Kruijswijk on his home trainer at home in Monaco.

Facebook censors painter Rubens, not nazism

This 21 July 2018 satiric video from Flanders in Belgium about ancient art says about itself:

Social media [in this case, Facebook] doesn’t want you to see Rubens’ paintings

Flanders – the perfect destination to enjoy the Flemish Masters in all their glory – is denouncing artistic censorship on social media platforms in a playful manner. At the Rubens House, ‘nudity viewers’ with a Facebook account were blocked from viewing nudity by a group of “social media police agents”.

So, 17th century painter Rubens is not welcome  on Facebook. Like later artists, including French 19th century painter Gustave Courbet. Like Facebook bans one of the world’s earliest works of art, the 30,000-year-old ‘Venus of Willendorf‘ sculpture.

What and who, then, is welcome on Facebook? Facebook boss Zuckerberg has said: Holocaust denying nazis. The Dutch neofascist party Nederlandse Volks-Unie (NVU) is welcome to spout their praise for Adolf Hitler, hatred of Jews and hatred of Dutch Moroccans on their Facebook account.

On the other hand, Facebook censors news sources without Big Business or Big Government support; favouring instead corporate media like the Rupert Murdoch empire (where anti-Semitism and other forms of racism happen). Nevertheless, Facebook claims corporate news is not fake news.

No censorship of Holocaust denial. Instead, censorship of an iconic photo of Vietnamese children attacked by United States napalm bombs; censorship even if the conservative prime minister of Norway posts that photo on Facebook. Instead, censorship of information on the bloody invasion of Syria by the Turkish Erdogan regime. The Erdogan regime, which Facebook also helps by censoring a Turkish Dutch politician. Instead, censorship of information on the genocide of Rohingya, thus helping the regime in Myanmar. Instead of censoring shoah denial, Facebook censors Arizona, USA teachers on strike against bad education policies. Like Facebook also censors British striking workers.

Instead of opposing Holocaust denial, they censor feminism. Instead, they censor information on women’s reproductive rights. Instead, Facebook censors a burn injuries survivor.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Flemish museums angry about Facebook‘s nudity ban

Flemish museums are sick of Facebook‘s strict anti-nudity policy. The social media platform also removes painted nudity by, for example, Flemish masters. In an open letter to Facebook boss Zuckerberg, a large number of museum directors demand he should be more liberal.

The cultural institutions use Facebook a lot to advertise their activities. They do this by placing pictures of paintings. But they are thwarted regularly by censorship.


Recently, Facebook removed a picture of the Venus of Willendorf, an iconic fertility statue of nearly 30,000 years old. The Crucifixion by Peter Paul Rubens was also rejected because Jesus has no more than a loincloth on.

Rubens, Christ crucified

“Although we are secretly laughing, your cultural censorship makes our lives quite difficult”, write the museum directors to Zuckerberg. They point out that art brings people together, just like social media.


The trade association Tourism Flanders adds a humorous video to the appeal to Zuckerberg. It shows how people are expelled by security agents from the Rubens House in Antwerp because they look at paintings with exposed body parts. Only people who do not have a Facebook account are allowed to look at them.

Facebook censors accounts against Charlottesville neonazis and against Trump’s anti-immigrant ICE: here.

Facebook’s ‘community standards’ are double-standards. The social media giant seems unable to enforce its own rules when it comes to far-right, white supremacist material, writes LUCY WOOD.

Tech companies promised to stop helping neo-Nazis raise money. They haven’t.

Green woodpecker, cuckoo Birds of the Year 2017

This video shows a green woodpecker in Sweden.

In Flanders, the green woodpecker has been voted Bird of the Year 2017.

Second was the song thrush. Third was the golden oriole.

This is a cuckoo video.

In the Netherlands, the SOVON ornithologists have chosen the cuckoo as Bird of the Year 2017.

Flemish neonazi Dewinter supports Greek Golden Dawn neonazis

Vlaams Belang MPs meet Greek Golden Dawn nazis

This photo from Greece shows MPs of the racist Belgian political party Vlaams Belang meeting with Greek Golden Dawn nazis at a Golden Dawn office.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Dewinter criticized because of speech at Golden Dawn‘s

Today, 17:19

The Flemish nationalist party Vlaams Belang MP Filip Dewinter has been reprimanded for his speech for the far-right Greek party Golden Dawn. …

Two fellow Vlaams Belang MPs who were also at the Golden Dawn meeting, Anke Van dermeersch and Jan Penris were also reprimanded. Van dermeersch was also expelled from the party executive. …

According to party chairman Van Grieken the MPs had gone to Greece to see the effects of mass immigration, he said to the Flemish broadcaster VRT. The politicians visited the islands of Lesvos, Kos and Chios, where many refugees arrive.

The party chairman claims, however, not to have known that Dewinter on Chios would do the speech at a meeting of Golden Dawn. …

The Belgian media have published photos in which the prominent members of Vlaams Belang pose at the headquarters of Golden Dawn. Also on social media one could see that the Vlaams Belang MPs had a meeting with members of the Golden Dawn party, which is strongly opposed to immigration.

Of the delegation that traveled to Greece Van dermeersch was the only member of the party executive. She remains a member of the Flemish Parliament. Penris and Dewinter remain parliamentarians as well. The party can not deprive them of their jobs.

So, apparently party Chairman Van Grieken now prefers dog-whistle fascism, as better public relations and less likelihood of problems with anti-discrimination laws in Belgium, to the open fascism of Vandermeersch, Dewinter, Penris and Golden Dawn (though Van Grieken himself a few years ago established links with the German NPD neonazis). Will ex-Vlaams Belang party leader Dewinter now split the party into two?

Hungary’s Orbán thanks Greek far-right Golden Dawn for its support: here.

World’s oldest deck of cards exhibited in New York

King, queen and knave cards in oldest deck of cards

This photo shows king, queen and knave (court jester) cards in the oldest deck of cards known in the world.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Deck of cards discovered by Dutchman exhibited in New York

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in the coming period a special deck of cards will be on display. It is the oldest complete card game in the world and it has been discovered by an Amsterdam antiques dealer.

Harry Kenter bought the game in 1978 at an auction in Paris. He paid 8,000 guilders. In the catalog it was presented as an incomplete tarot game from the 16th century, but Kenter immediately thought the game was older.

The card game is from Flanders and is called Court Years Hunting Package. Instead of hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs there are hunting pictures on the cards: hunting horns, dog collars, dog lines and snares to catch animals.

The medieval deck of cards

“It took years before we knew that the game must have been made between 1470 and 1480. Museums and institutes helped us with researching the clothes shown on the cards. There were also samples of the paper. That study showed that there were no substances in it younger than 1450.” The watermark in the paper of the game was used between 1466 and 1479 in the Netherlands and South Flanders.

The short jackets and hair cut above the ears was fashionable in dynasties between 1470 and 1480. Like the pointed shoes, which in 1480 went out of fashion.

I was taken under police escort to Sotheby’s – Harry Kenter

The hand-painted cards are in exceptionally good condition and were probably property of a prince who never used them. For what game they were intended is not known. Just like our current decks one can in principle play any card game with it, like a game of poker or bridge, although these games did not exist in the 15th century.

In 1983 Kenter sold the game to the museum for $ 143,000. That happened in London at an auction at Sotheby’s, where he was taken to under police escort.

“In Amsterdam I once cycled around with the deck of cards in my pocket, but the insurance told me to really never do that again. If I wanted to show the deck to friends, I had to take them to a bank, where the vault was. Then I told my wife that it was useless to us and that we should auction the deck.”

Endangered porbeagle sharks eaten in Belgium

This video from Canada is called Porbeagle Shark in St. Margaret’s Bay, Nova Scotia.

Translated from Natuurpunt in Belgium:

Monday, December 22, 2014

The National Professional Federation of Fish Shopkeepers calls in its magazine for the fishing industry on its members not to sell the endangered porbeagle shark even if wholesalers would offer it. Natuurpunt had insisted on this when two months ago it turned out that the strictly protected shark was still traded in Flanders.

A lot of commotion in October when it turned out that the porbeagle, which is strictly protected since 2010, was still sold by Flemish fishmongers.

Rare mushroom in Flanders for first time ever

Hygrocybe viola waxcap, photo by Yves Deneyer

Translated from the Flemish mycologists of Paddenstoelenwerkgroep Westhoek:

Monday, December 22, 2014

In Elverdinge (Ypres) during an excursion of the Mushroom Task Force West Flanders Hygrocybe viola was discovered. It is the first observation of this species in Flanders. Across Europe there are only a handful of reports of this mushroom with its lilac-colored hat.

In Belgium one other discovery was made of the rare Hygrocybe viola: in 1977, in Vencimont (Wallonia). There are only a handful of known observations in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Denmark (Boertmann, 2010). That makes Hygrocybe viola one of the rarest of the scions of the waxcap family.

World War I commemoration and folk music

The video of this punk rock song is called Siouxsie & The Banshees ‘Poppy Day’ Live 1979.

By Nick Matthews in England:

In Flanders Fields finds a new voice

Monday 13th October 2014

Inspired by John McCrae’s World War I poem, a new folk rendition was a highlight of the Derby Folk Festival, writes NICK MATTHEWS

I had a fabulous time at the Derby Folk Festival earlier this month.

At one point it did not look like it would go ahead after a fire at the Assembly Rooms — however a large marquee in the market place saved the day.

Bill toppers included Steeleye Span, Show of Hands and Kate Rusby.

Lower down the bill however there were some real showstoppers including an outstanding performance from the wonderful Martin Simpson and a lovely laid-back slot from Americans Dana and Susan Robinson.

The most moving performance by a long way however was that of In Flanders Fields by vocal trio Barry Coope, Jim Boyes and Lester Simpson.

They have been stalwarts of the festival for a long time and are one of my personal favourites.

That is not just because they release their music on the co-operative No Masters Voice label.

Their vocal harmony singing is sublime and they combine a mastery of the genre with tremendous wit and biting social commentary.

The folk world generally has produced some of the best musical offerings to mark the centenary of the first world war and as you would expect from folk artists, has done so from the bottom up.

This music video is called The end of “Gentle Men”, written by Robb Johnson and performed with Roy Bailey at the Ropetackle, Shoreham-by-Sea 24.7.14.

Robb Johnson’s Gentle Men, his family history of the war to end all wars, is very good indeed and so is Show of Hands’ Centenary, a mixture of song and poetry from the period.

This 18 June 2014 music video is called Show of Hands – Centenary: In Conversation with Steve Knightley.

Coope, Boyes & Simpson’s is a very substantial piece of work. It is both moving and funny and marks a 20-year collaboration, not only with the history but the place of Flanders itself.

Piet Chielens, co-ordinator of the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, argues that they have been at the forefront of the commemoration in the West Flemish Front region for 20 years.

Their body of work on the war can be seen as a “lieu de memoire.”

Indeed in Flanders, he says, no artistic initiative seems to have been more successfully involved with the theme than that of this trio.

In their show they bring together eyewitness accounts, contemporary poetry and songs specially commissioned for the town of Passchendaele’s peace concerts.

The album’s title, In Flanders Fields, takes its name from the poem written by John McCrae who was killed on the Western Front in the first world war.

Ironically the poem was used in army recruitment and its references to poppies made them an important part of later commemorations.

In the live shows the pieces between the songs are as well chosen as the songs themselves, including quips from contemporary music hall song, extracts from the Ypres Times — the satirical paper produced by the soldiers in the trenches — as well as poetry and letters home.

They give voice to the poor bloody infantry and their contempt for the sergeant majors and officers.

Never afraid to prick the bubble of the pompous they create a rounded image of the war that is deeply moving.

Visiting Belgium over two decades changed the life of Boyes in particular.

He now lives there after visiting regularly since the ’70s, before becoming involved in Peace Concerts Passchendaele, where he made many friends and later made Belgium his second home.

His involvement with the Flemish folk scene began when he released a solo album called Out The Blue.

It was the first thing he had done on the co-operative No Masters label which he had set up with John Tams.

Chielens, who wrote for the Flemish folk magazine Gandalf, had known of Boyes since his time in Swan Arcade.

He reviewed the album which contained a song, Down On The Dugout Floor, that he had written after a visit to play the Dranouter Folk Festival near Ypres.

When Chielens started the peace concerts, he invited Boyes to go over and play with some Flemish musicians.

Once there he was asked if there was anyone else that Boyes would like to involve.

He had just started working with Coope and Simpson and eventually they took part in five different peace concert productions in Belgium and England, performing on former battlefields like Hill 60, among the memorials at Tyne Cot and at the request of the town of Passchendaele for their 80th anniversary commemoration of the long and terrible 1917 battle.

Many of these performances are now contained on In Flanders Fields and there is also an impressive book to go with the two CDs.

At Derby they mocked the Guardian’s description of their work as post-modern folk. More like “post-mortem” they said. Sadly there is nothing post about this work — as we embark on another war, it is strikingly contemporary.

This work is beautiful, funny, passionate and angry and a terrific antidote to much of the jingoism that marks the centenary.

The artists argue that “the more we learn about war, the more important it becomes to sing about peace.”

Get to see them perform if you can and let’s hope that’s what everyone who hears them learns too.

Nick Matthews is chair of Co-operatives UK.

Storm helps Belgian Roman age archaeologists

This video is called Secrets of Archaeology – Roman Imprint on the West – Part 1/2.

Translated from news agency Belga in Belgium today:

A positive effect of the Saint Nicholas storm which blew over our country on 5 December is that a lot of archaeological relics were washed up on the coast. That was the case between Ostend and Bredene on Oosteroever. These were finds and sherds from the Roman period.

Snowy owl in Zeebrugge, Belgium

This video from the USA is called NATURE “Magic of the Snowy Owl” | Preview | PBS.

In Zeebrugge in Belgium, a snowy owl was seen today on the North Sea beach of Zeebrugge.

See here; with photo.

Odd migration patterns of snowy owls, other species are troubling zoologists: here.