• Painting by numbers

    4 Aug 2009 by Alan Hope
    Every year, the research unit of the Flemish government produces a massive document called Flemish Regional Indicators (Vrind). In more than 400 pages, the Vrind presents a picture of the region in all its aspects: social, economic, cultural, demographic, educational, from the point of view of businesses, legislators, students, teachers and families. The document itself is available (in Dutch only) in PDF or printed form from the address below. In the meantime, we present a selection of interesting items from its vast store of information. Full story
  • Flanders’ most powerful woman

    4 Aug 2009 by Alan Hope
    When Frank Vandenbroucke unexpectedly did not become a minister in the new Flemish government, this caused some bewilderment within socialist party ranks. At the same time, no-one complained about who is to replace him: Ingrid Lieten, the new vice-minister-president and minister for (take a deep breath!) Innovation, Government Investment, Media and Poverty. Lieten is a so-called "white rabbit", pulled from a top hat: her appointment is a surprise, as she did not stand in the elections. Full story
  • Life for killer Belliraj

    4 Aug 2009 by Alan Hope
    Abdelkader Belliraj, the Evergem man arrested in Morocco in January last year on suspicion of terrorism, has been sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in Rabat on charges of murder, terrorist conspiracy and weapons offences. Belliraj, aged 52, has a wife and family still living in Flanders. Full story
  • Major delays threat during E19 works

    4 Aug 2009 by Alan Hope
    Motorists were this week warned of severe delays and tailbacks of up to 30 km on the E19 motorway from 10 August, because of "the biggest roadworks in years". The motorway will be closed on the Brussels-bound side between Kontich and Mechelen South for resurfacing, with traffic restricted to 2x2 narrow lanes in contraflow. Full story
  • Swine flu claims first Belgian victim

    4 Aug 2009 by Alan Hope
    A 34-year-old woman from Meerle near Hoogstraten in Antwerp province last week became the first fatality in Belgium from swine flu A-H1N1. The woman, who had not travelled abroad, was treated in the St Elisabeth hospital in Turnhout, where she presented flu-like symptoms including a severe migraine headache, but only a mild fever. Initially, she was diagnosed with a double lung infection, which can be a complication of flu. By the time she was tested and infection with A-H12N1 confirmed, her condition had worsened. "The woman was treated with anti-viral drugs, but unfortunately died," said a spokesman for the federal health ministry. Full story
  • Fraud rife in service-cheque businesses

    4 Aug 2009 by Alan Hope
    More than half of all companies working with service-cheques are engaged in fraud, according to an audit by the industry federation Federgon. The federation carried out checks on 184 businesses, and found fraud in 108 of them. Full story
  • News in Brief

    4 Aug 2009 by Alan Hope
    One quarter of newborns in Antwerp is born into a family where Dutch is not the mother tongue, according to family organisation Kind en Gezin. Antwerp is already home to one in three of all children from economically disadvantaged families in Flanders, who account for one in ten of all children under the age of 12. Children born into families where Dutch is not spoken, Kind en Gezin said, face major challenges at school and later in the workplace. Full story
  • Creationists take aim at Flanders

    4 Aug 2009 by Alan Hope
    In a very short time, though probably not as short as six days, every home in Flanders will be receiving a brochure explaining to them how, in the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth, and how Charles Darwin got it all wrong. Full story
  • Khayari's photo was circulated by Interpol

    Chopper jailbreak gangster picked up

    4 Aug 2009 by Alan Hope
    One of the gangsters who escaped from Bruges prison in a daring helicopter jailbreak two weeks ago was arrested on Monday in Molenbeek in Brussels. Abdelhaq Melloul Khayari, aged 41, was in possession of a substantial sum of cash, police said. Full story
  • Antwerp's Law Courts

    Government to blame for Antwerp justice palace fiasco

    4 Aug 2009 by Alan Hope
    The federal government's buildings agency and the justice ministry were last week both slated by an external auditor for their responsibility for the severe cost over-runs in the construction of the new Antwerp Courts of Justice (pictured). The building, a striking addition to the city skyline designed by the celebrated architect Richard Rogers, was started in 2006 (two years later than originally planned) with a budget of €75 million. By the time it was completed and opened last year the price had shot up to €250 million. Full story

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