Tag Archives | Belgium

Steve Reich’s Piano Phase, Visualized

An awesome website, pianophase.com, has recently come to my attention. It takes the minimalistic music of Steve Reich’s piano phase and graphs it out to show how every permutation in the piece is simply a different phase of two of the same musical figures played simultaneously with different starting points.

A live version of this piece, which was written 48 years ago by living American minimalist composer Steve Reich, as excellently performed by Tine Allegaert & Lukas Huisman can also be viewed here:

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The City Where Residents Have Been Taking Mentally Ill People into Their Homes for Hundreds of Years


Lizzie Dearden writes at the Independent:

“Half of Geel is crazy, and the rest is half crazy,” runs a joke often told about the Belgian city of Geel.

On the surface, it may seem unremarkable with its pretty market square and river views, surrounded by the Antwerp countryside.

But wandering around its plazas and cafes, visitors may notice that some of the residents seem slightly “eccentric”, and with good reason.

The city is home to hundreds of mental health patients, who live not in psychiatric hospitals but with local families as part of a unique model of care dating back centuries.

Mike Jay, an author and cultural historian, has visited Geel to explore its unusual system.

Speaking to The Independent, he said the perception of “madness” as we know it does not exist.

“The people of Geel very studiously avoid all that language in a way I think is quite admirable,” Mr Jay added.

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Belgium Considers Selecting Citizens for Senate via Lottery

Palais de la Nation (Bruxelles)
This is a great idea, and long overdue. If they are able to successfully implement this, perhaps it might catch on in other countries which could also stand to benefit from a healthy dose of direct democracy.

Via Equality by Lot:

Senior politicians in Brussels are supporting a legislative reform that could revolutionize Belgian democracy: according to the plan members of the Senate – the upper chamber of the nation’s parliament – would be selected in a lottery that would be held once every four years among the citizenry.

The chairperson of the socialist party in the Belgian parliament, Laurette Onkelinx, a former vice prime minister, is saying that “traditional politics is ailing and new ways have to be considered.”

The idea of sortition has been gaining support recently. Richard Miller, an MR member of parliament, said that “we need to go directly to the people and hear their positions – and sortition is the way.” One of the heads of the left-wing Flemish party, Peter Vanvelthoven, a former labor minister, supports the idea as well: “infuse new blood into the parliamentary institutions through a more direct democracy – select all members of the Senate through a random draw among all the adult citizens of Belgium.

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24-year-old Woman Suffering From Depression Granted Right to Die in Belgium

Mary Lock (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0)

Mary Lock (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0)

Well this is sure to be controversial…

Newsweek titled their article, “Healthy 24-year-old granted right to die in Belgium.” But I’m not so sure that someone who’s wanted to die so badly for so long should be considered “healthy.”

According to the article, the woman in question, Laura, has suffered from suicidal thoughts her entire life. She’s received therapy from the mental health industry, but what happens when nothing works?

Eilish O’Gara via Newsweek:

Doctors in Belgium are granting a 24-year-old woman who is suffering from depression but is otherwise healthy the right to die as she qualifies for euthanasia under the Belgian law, even though she does not have a terminal or life-threatening illness.

The 24-year-old woman, known simply as Laura, has been given the go-ahead by health professionals in Belgium to receive a lethal injection after spending both her childhood and adult life suffering from “suicidal thoughts”, she told local Belgian media.

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Belgian Racing Pigeons Are Doped Up On Cocaine and Painkillers

Dr. Rockso: He does cocaine.

Shocking news for all of you who follow the sport of competitive pigeon racing.

Nothing is sacred it appears in the high-flying world of pigeon racing in Belgium, where six birds were found to have been doped with drugs such as cocaine and painkillers, Belgian media reported Thursday.

Cycling-mad Belgium is used to hearing of sports stars pumped up on performance-enhancing drugs, but officials are now homing-in on the birds used in a sport which rakes in millions in breeding and prize monies.

The Belgian pigeon-racing federation sent samples from 20 birds to the National Horseracing Authority of Southern Africa after a recent exchange visit, two Flemish dailies reported.

Keep reading.

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Scientology Charged With Illegal Medicine, Breaches Of Privacy And Extortion

Founding Church of Scientology in Washington DC. Photo: Ben Schumin (CC)

So what is this, unfair persecution of a religion or finally a justice system willing to take on a criminal enterprise cloaked as a church? From the Daily Mail:

Belgian federal prosecutors are preparing to bring charges against the Church of Scientology as a ‘criminal organisation’, it has today been reported.

It is believed the charges of fraud, illegal medicine, breaches of privacy and extortion have been drawn up against the Church and two senior executives.

It is believed the charges relate to employment contracts issued to recruit volunteers and members in breach of Belgium’s strict employment laws, the Telegraph reports.

Prosecutors are investigating claims of extortion, illegal use of ‘pseudo-medicine’ and the keeping of records that go against privacy laws.

According to De Standaard, raids on Scientology offices in Belgium allegedly revealed evidence that the group had spied on and extorted money from converts.

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Bombs Explode In IKEA Stores Across Europe


Photo: Sbotig (CC)

IKEA’s business has been booming. Although no one was significantly injured, this coordinated attack had alarm clocks exploding in three different European countries. Via Reuters:

French, Belgian and Dutch police have launched investigations after minor explosions struck IKEA [IKEA.UL] stores in each country late on Monday in what appears to have been a coordinated attack.

No one was seriously hurt in the blasts at the world’s biggest furniture retailer, although two workers in Belgium suffered minor injuries.

Rigged alarm clocks blew up in IKEA stores in Ghent in Belgium and Lille in France, and there was an explosion in a bin outside the IKEA store in Eindhoven in the Netherlands.

The alarm clocks were linked to small amounts of gunpowder, and prosecutors said they did not think that the bombers had intended to cause significant injury.

“Federal police with dogs did a sweep of other stores but there was nothing suspect that was found,” An Schoonjans, a Ghent prosecutor, told Reuters.

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Belgium Marks One Year Without Full Government

Photo: Didier Misson (CC)

Photo: Didier Misson (CC)

Breaking Iraq’s record of 289 days, Belgium reaches a year without an entire government. BBC reports:

As Belgium marks one year without a government, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has called the political impasse “extremely pitiful”.

The former Belgian prime minister told the De Standaard newspaper that the country would need a full government soon to decide on economic policy.

Member states are required to put long-term economic planning past the EU.

Caretaker Prime Minister Yves Leterme has said three more months might be needed to form a governing coalition.

Mr Leterme succeeded Mr Van Rompuy as prime minister in November 2009, but resigned in April 2010 after his government collapsed.

[Continues at BBC News]

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Bring Out Your Dead – And Put Them Down Drain

From Sky News/Yahoo:

Undertakers in Belgium have said they want to save the environment by liquefying corpses instead of cremating them.

It has been claimed the process of dissolving the dead in a caustic potash solution would use less energy than a crematorium – it would also not emit any harmful carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The body sludge could then be given to relatives to flush away as a final goodbye.

The Flemish Association of Undertakers is now trying to get permission to carry out the green procedure, which is known as chemical hydrolysis.

Bodies are dissolved by placing them in a container of water and salts. The mixture is then pressurised and after about two hours, all that remains is mineral ash and a liquid gunk.

But the idea is controversial in a country which has strong religious beliefs.

Many people associate the idea with something out of a gangster movie – an awkward character or witness is disposed of by the mob in an acid bath…

[continues at Sky News/Yahoo]

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Could Belgium Split Apart?

From Global Post:

It’s been a bad couple of days for Belgium.

On Thursday the government collapsed, plunging the country into a renewed political turmoil; politicians from the French-speaking south and Flemish north cast doubt on the country’s survival; Flemish separatists sang for independence in the parliament; and the press around Europe warned the country is teetering on the brink of disintegration.

Then, on Friday, one of Belgium’s best-known churchmen, the bishop of the beautiful medieval city of Bruges, resigned after admitting he had “sexually abused a boy who came from my close circle of friends.” The revelations added to the sense of malaise that has gripped the kingdom.

“Is there still any point to this country?” asked the leading French-language newspaper Le Soir.

“We are a country gone mad,” exclaimed Deputy Prime Minister Laurette Onkelinx as the fifth government in three years came tumbling down.

The crisis could hardly have come at a worse time, as the country struggles to pull out of the economic downturn.

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