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St. Nicholas, bringer of sweets, reaches Brussels
3 December 2016 - Children gathered with parents in Brussels's medieval main square on Saturday to await the arrival of St. Nicholas, a pre-Christmas tradition in Belgium, the Netherlands, and other parts of northern Europe held in honor of the legendary gift-giver. Every year in early December parades are held in towns across Belgium and the Netherlands, at which thousands of children cheer St. Nicholas. His arrival in the capital cities of the two countries is especially picturesque. (more)

A 600,000-Flower Carpet is beautifying Brussels
12 August 2016 - On your average day, the Grand Place in Brussels -- a UNESCO World Heritage Site -- is fascinating in its own way. But once every two years, for about four days, the stony square gets all dressed up. With the help of the people of Belgium, it covers itself in 600,000 flowers-the famous 'Brussels Flower Carpet.' This year's was constructed over the course of eight hours by hundreds of volunteers, who, following a color plan laid out on the ground, hand-placed each begonia, dahlia, and bark bit. People in Brussels can visit the carpet at the Grand-Place through Monday. Everyone else can enjoy internet photos. (more)

Belgium: Brussels 'Flower Carpet' has Japanese theme
12 August 2016 - Hundreds of thousands of begonias and dahlias will emblazon the Grand Place in Brussels this weekend for its 20th 'Flower Carpet' display, which this year has a Japanese theme. 'The patterns and symbols of the flower carpet express happiness and peace,' said Fujie Suzuki, one of the lead designers. After the display was completed on Friday morning, tourists from all over the world arrived to marvel at the display. (more)

Belgium: Flower Carpet brightens up Brussels's Grand Palace
12 August 2016 - But for four days every two years, Brussels's central square, the Grand-Place, blooms with a colorful floral carpet. The Brussels Flower Carpet was first made in 1971 and was so popular that it became a beloved tradition. (more)

Close to 7,000 additional Belgian millionaires in dollars in 2015
23 June 2016 - The number of Belgians having over one million dollars (880,000 euros), not including the worth of their residence, increased by 6,700 to reach 108,800 (that is,it increased by 6.5 per cent) in 2015, as published by the consulting company Capgemini in its 20th report titled 'World Wealth Report'. Worldwide, the number of millionaires in dollars increased by 4.9 per cent. (more)

Rombaut uses pineapple 'leather' to make vegan-friendly sneakers
19 May 2016 - Experimental label Rombaut has harnessed plant-based alternatives such as fig tree bark from Uganda, tapa from the South Pacific, wild Amazonian rubber, and coconut fiber. For fall, Rombaut is rolling out a line of sneakers made with Pinatex, a robust yet pliable non-woven textile from the Philippines that is being hailed by many as an alternative to leather. Engineered from the fibers of discarded pineapple leaves, Pinatex is both biodegradable and compostable. (more)

Belgium, Netherlands to exchange territory -- without a fight
30 December 2015 - Throughout history, borders have caused unfathomable bloodshed, ageless feuds, and decades-old legal disputes, which makes plans for a friendly exchange of land between the Netherlands and Belgium all the more remarkable. 'In essence, it is very rare but it can happen,' said barrister Malcolm Shaw, an expert on international border disputes. He highlighted how complicated history has woven the borders in the area close to where Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany touch, leaving enclaves and strangely twisted borders. Belgian military historian Luc De Vos said that friendship between neighbours makes all the difference. (more)

Belgian tourist boards parade cats to lure back tourists after lockdown
25 November 2015 - Belgium's tourist boards have latched onto a social media craze of cats that gave Brussels light relief during a tense five-day security lockdown in the wake of militant attacks in Paris. When police on Sunday asked the public in Brussels not to share details of their operations on social media, Belgians took to tweeting each other pictures of their cats. Capitalising on the social media hit, Belgium's three tourist authorities have now released a 20 second video film. (more)

Christmas 1914: The day even WWI showed humanity
20 December 2014 - With British and German forces separated only by a no-man's land littered with fallen comrades, sounds of a German Christmas carol suddenly drifted across the frigid air: 'Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht' ('Silent Night, Holy Night'). Then, during that first Christmas Day in World War I, something magical happened. Soldiers who had been killing each other by the tens of thousands for months climbed out of their soggy, muddy trenches to seek a shred of humanity amid the horrors of war. Hands reached out across the narrow divide, presents were exchanged, and in Flanders Fields a century ago, a spontaneous Christmas truce briefly lifted the human spirit. (more)

Belgium-based company aims to clean up seas
11 May 2014 - The world's first washing-up liquid bottle made from reclaimed ocean plastic is to go on sale in UK supermarkets later this month. The green cleaning brand Ecover will use the launch of its new Ocean Bottle washing-up liquid to highlight the long-term dangers of dumping plastic in the sea, which is killing fish on a large scale and threatening global ecosystems. Ecover, a Belgian company, has been working with manufacturer Logoplaste to combine plastic trawled from the sea with a plastic made from sugarcane (which it calls Plant-astic) and recycled plastic, in what it is hailing as a world-first for packaging. (more)


Success of Maharishi's Programmes
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Belgium: Peace Assemblies in Brussels create harmonious atmosphere for EU leaders' summits
10 March 2014 - European Union Summit meetings bring together heads of state in Brussels, Belgium, every few months to make important decisions for the whole EU. Brussels is also the seat of the European Commission, European Council, and European Parliament. A few hundred metres away, special Peace Assemblies of advanced Transcendental Meditation practitioners have been held coinciding with the summits, with the aim of creating a coherent, harmonious atmosphere for EU leaders' deliberations, so that they will have the most life-supporting effect for all of Europe. (more)

Belgium: Consciousness-Based Education expert tours five cities
12 May 2013 - Dr Ashley Deans, an expert with many years experience in the field of Consciousness-Based Education, recently toured Belgium speaking on its benefits for both students and educators. Dr Deans' five-city tour started in Brussels with a well-attended press conference, and went on to visit the major Belgian educational centres and cities of Leuven, Ghent, Hasselt, and Antwerp, returning at the end to Brussels. (more)

Coherence-creating conference of advanced meditators convenes in Brussels 'to support unity and stability in Europe' during EU summit
6 March 2013 - A four-day conference of advanced Transcendental Meditation practitioners is in progress in Brussels, Belgium--'to support unity and stability in Europe' during the current summit of European Union leaders, organizers said. Scientific research has found that large groups practising these advanced technologies of consciousness reduce social stress and create a measurable influence of coherence and harmony in the surroundings. Similar conferences held during EU summits last year had 'remarkable' effects, said Dr Stijn van den Bosch, director of the Transcendental Meditation programme in Belgium. The first was held in June during an important EU summit meeting about the financial crisis. 'Although expectations for a good outcome were very low, heads of state came to an agreement on the first day.' A news article commented, 'After 20 failed EU summits, here is finally one that has some good results.' (more)

Belgium: Transcendental Meditation group established to create coherence, harmony for EU
21 January 2013 - In Brussels, Belgium, where many key institutions of the European Union are based, a group of advanced Transcendental Meditation practitioners dedicated to supporting unity and stability in Europe has been established nearby in two adjacent, dignified city-centre buildings. The group's purpose is to create through their daily meditation practice an influence of coherence and harmony in the collective consciousness of Europe--one of many initiatives of Maharishi's Invincible Defence programmes in Belgium and other countries around the world. (more)

Coherence-creating conference of meditators gathers to lend quiet support to EU summit in Brussels
25 September 2012 - A conference of meditators who practise the Transcendental Meditation technique will be held in Brussels, Belgium, coinciding with a European summit convened to discuss the future of the continent. Lt. Col. (Ret.) Gunter Chasse, a decorated officer in the German Air Force, said that the meditators are 'coming to perform their powerful coherence-creating programme in the Maharishi Invincibility Centre, just a few hundred metres away from where the political leaders will be meeting.' Scientific research has documented the measurable decrease in social stress and conflict, and rise in social coherence and harmony, generated by large groups practising Transcendental Meditation and its advanced programmes. (more)

Conference in Brussels aims to create coherence during EU summit
8 June 2012 - Advanced Transcendental Meditation practitioners from throughout Europe will convene later this week for a special three-day conference in Brussels, Belgium. The conference is planned for 28-30 June, coinciding with the European summit in Brussels. Participants will meet for twice-daily extended practice of Transcendental Meditation and its advanced techniques, to create an effect of coherence and positivity to support the proceedings of the European leaders. (more)

Belgium: Progress in expanding Consciousness-Based Education, Maharishi Ayur-Veda health care
22 January 2011 - The past year has been one of significant progress in implementing and expanding programmes of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, especially those in education and health care, in Belgium. (more)

Belgium launches Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture projects, EU petitions GMOs
20 November 2010 - Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture projects are underway at the Maharishi Invincibility Centre in Belgium. At the same time, European attitudes toward GMOs are becoming are moving in the direction of increasing food purity and safety, in accord with principles of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Vedic Science and technologies of consciousness. (more)

Belgium: Maharishi Spa expands offerings, new Vastu construction underway
20 November 2010 - Programmes at the Maharishi Spa in Brussels, Belgium, are expanding with the recent training of two new Maharishi Ayur-Veda technicians, who will be offering new treatments to guests. The Spa is now also supported by regular visits from Vaidyas (expert Ayurvedic physicians from India). In other news from Belgium, another Vastu home is under construction, the second in the nation to be designed and built according to Maharishi Vedic architecture. (more)

Belgium: Maharishi Vedic Architecture, Consciousness-Based Education, Maharishi Ayur-Veda health care expanding
28 July 2010 - The programmes of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the fields of Vastu architecture and building construction; Consciousness-Based Education; and natural, prevention-oriented health care are undergoing great expansion in Belgium. (more)


Flops
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Experts: Belgium often comes up short in preventing attacks
24 March 2016 - Belgium has come up short in its efforts to prevent extremist attacks time and again, experts say -- failing to coordinate intelligence, investigate suspects, and control its borders. No country has a perfect record, but Belgium's is especially bad. Raffaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at the Royal United Services Institute in London, called it 'depressingly predictable' that a major attack would occur in Brussels. (more)

Islamic State claims deadly bombings in Brussels
23 March 2016 - Islamic extremists struck Tuesday in the heart of Europe, killing at least 34 people and wounding scores of others in back-to-back bombings of the Brussels airport and subway that again laid bare the continent's vulnerability to suicide squads. European security officials have been bracing for a major attack for weeks and warned that IS was actively preparing to strike. The arrest Friday [in Molenbeek] of Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the November 13 attacks in Paris, heightened those fears, as investigators said many more people were involved than originally thought and that some are still on the loose. (more)

In Belgian district, many feel a dead end fuels militancy
20 December 2015 - Brahim Abdeslam seemed no different from his peers in Molenbeek, one of Belgium's poorest districts, where drug use is rife and many of the young men are unemployed. One November evening, he passed the time smoking pot in a parked car with two of his friends. But the next day, Abdeslam drove to Paris, and on November 13 he blew himself up outside a cafe on Boulevard Voltaire, part of the wave of attacks claimed by the Islamic State group that killed 130 people. The Molenbeek district of Brussels was home to a core number of the participants in the Paris attacks. Home to generations of immigrants and Belgians of North African descent, Molenbeek feels like a dead end for many of its youth, residents say. With few opportunities, they feel neglected by authorities and rejected by the rest of Belgian society -- giving an opening for radicals to seek recruits. (more)

Brussels under serious threat after Paris attacks
21 November 2015 - Heavily armed police and soldiers patrolled key intersections, subways were closed, and many stores shut their doors in Belgium's capital Saturday as the government warned of a threat of Paris-style attacks. At least one suspect from the deadly Paris attacks is at large and was last seen crossing into Belgium. Prime Minister Charles Michel said the decision to raise the threat alert to the highest level was taken 'based on quite precise information about the risk of an attack like the one that happened in Paris ... where several individuals with arms and explosives launch actions, perhaps even in several places at the same time.' (more)

Paris attacks rooted in Brussels bring question: Why Belgium
21 November 2015 - The family homes of the suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks and one of the suicide bombers stand only a few blocks apart in the Belgian capital's Molenbeek neighborhood. After a string of attacks in recent years linked to its grimy streets in central Brussels, a key question arises: Why Belgium? The tiny nation renowned for beer, chocolates, and the comic book hero Tintin is now suddenly infamous for Islamic extremism -- and the easy availability of illegal weapons. Belgium has a central location in Europe; few border controls; a common language with prime jihadi target France; and a political divide between French and Dutch speakers that has long created bureaucratic disarray in justice and security. From the Prime Minister down, there is widespread acknowledgment of a complicated and disjointed national structure that hampers the fight against extremism. (more)

Young jobless on the rise in Europe's rich north
21 September 2012 - Youth unemployment is notoriously a problem of southern Europe. What is less obvious, as the euro zone slips into its second recession in just three years, is the scale of the problem in the north. A quarter of 18-to-25 year olds in Antwerp, Belgium are now jobless, up from 19 per cent in 2008. In some parts of Brussels, the Belgian and European capital and the third-richest region in the European Union, youth joblessness is as high as 40 per cent. In France, Britain, and Sweden, as many as one in five young people are now out of work. The rising pool of jobless youth is fuelling class and racial divisions, according to youth workers and some politicians. Many experts blame joblessness for outbursts of violence such as last year's riots in Britain. Southern Europe has long struggled with youth unemployment. In Italy, the rate has not dropped below 20 per cent in more than two decades, according to the EU's statistics office Eurostat. In Spain, the rate has averaged 30 per cent since 1990. (more)

Street crime wave hits Europe's capital
8 November 2011 - A wave of theft and vandalism has hit the downtown of Europe's capital, only blocks away from where leaders have been trying to fix the continent's debt crisis, provoking the local police chief to blame immigrants and drug addicts. While government heads pulled up in the past few days in luxury cars shielded by security vehicles, the streets nearby revealed a cruder side to Europe's economic troubles -- shattered car window glass lining one major avenue and a slew of store windows smashed in a nearby neighbourhood. Pickpocket incidents in the year up to 1 November were up to 3,020 this year from 2,509 in the same period of 2010. Violent robberies rose to 1,955 from 1,725. Thefts from vehicles declined to 6,200 in the period this year from 6,500 last -- but in October they went up by 16 per cent. (more)

Belgian government collapses, economy at risk
22 April 2010 - Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme's government collapsed on Thursday after the Flemish liberal party pulled out of his five-month-old coalition, causing a crisis that could damage its fragile economy. Economists have expressed concern that political paralysis in the linguistically-divided country of 10.6 million people as it recovers from the global economic crisis would harm the prospects of reducing Belgium's budget deficit. (more)

Infant swimming in chlorinated pools tied to lung infection, asthma
28 January 2010 - Children who start swimming before the age of 2 may be at increased risk of a common infant lung infection, and possibly asthma and respiratory allergies later in life, a new study suggests. The findings, reported in the European Respiratory Journal, add to evidence that exposure to chlorinated pools may affect children's respiratory health -- particularly if they have a family history of asthma or respiratory allergies like hay fever. Experts have suspected that the air quality around pools, particularly indoor ones, is to blame. In the new study, Belgian researchers found that infant swimming -- whether in indoor or outdoor pools -- was linked to a heightened risk of bronchiolitis. Among children who had used only indoor pools for more than 20 hours before age 2, the risk of bronchiolitis was 3.5-times higher compared with children who had never been to a chlorinated indoor pool at that age. Children who had spent that much time at an outdoor pool showed a two-fold increase in their risk of the lung infection. (more)

Is swimming pool chlorine fuelling the allergy epidemic?
14 September 2009 - Swimming in a chlorinated pool may boost the odds that a child susceptible to asthma and allergies will develop these problems, a study released today indicates. 'These new data clearly show that by irritating the airways of swimmers chlorination products in water and air of swimming pools exert a strong additive effect on the development of asthma and respiratory allergies such as hay fever and allergic rhinitis,' Dr Alfred Bernard, a toxicologist at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels, Belgium, noted in an email to Reuters Health. 'The impact of these chemicals on the respiratory health of children and adolescents appears to be much more important -- at least by a factor of five -- than that associated with secondhand smoke,' Dr Bernard noted. (more)

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