07 December 2012

Recent Local News - Who Wants an Elephant?


French Beer Tax
France has announced that it will raise the tax on beer
by 160 percent. If France chooses to do so, it is likely to
threaten hundreds of jobs in the Belgian beer sector, says
Sven Gatz, the Chairman of the Belgian Brewers. France
is the biggest market for Belgian beer (20 percent of the
Belgian beer production). Gatz expects the measure to
cause the sales in France to drop by 15 to 20 percent.
The brewers are especially upset that the tax increase
only applies to beer and not wine and liquor. The brewers
believe it is a case of discrimination and protectionism.
Prime Minister Di Rupo has already raised the issue with
French President Hollande while the latter made a remark
on the Belgian fiscal legislation that is attracting French
millionaires who want to evade the French tax on wealth.

New Holocaust Museum in Belgium
The grand opening of the new Holocaust museum in Mechelen
was held last week in presence of Belgian King Albert
II. The building is built with a total of 25,852 bricks, i.e.
exactly the number of Jewish people and Gypsies who
were deported from the Dossin barracks in Mechelen
between 1942 and 1944. Of those deported, only five
percent came back from the concentration camps.

Belgians discover three new species of bees
A team of scientists from the Royal Belgian Institute for
Natural Sciences, has discovered three new South-African
bee species. The bees involved are primitive bees with
a length of only 6 or 7 millimeters. They have South Africa's
Cape Province as their natural habitat and have
only been spotted there.The bees have been assigned to
the new family Capalictus. The Belgian scientists worked
with America's Cornell University and London's Natural History
 Museum for their research.

Synthetic diamonds in Antwerpen
The Antwerp judicial authorities are looking into a fraud
case involving synthetic diamonds. Synthetic diamonds
can hardly be distinguished from real ones, only laboratory
research can provide real guarantees. The scam was
discovered in Antwerp's Gemological Institute. Apparently,
also counterfeit diamonds are being traded in the
city of Antwerp. This was discovered almost by accident,
when a trader had some checks done on 1,000 smaller
stones. 600 turned out to be synthetic or man-made.
The diamonds involved came from abroad (an American
supplier). People tried to sell them in Antwerp presenting
them as real, natural diamonds. They had been mixed
with other real diamonds to fool buyers, but a laboratory
in Antwerp discovered the scam. Synthetic diamonds are
cheaper than real diamonds, but not so much, because
it is very expensive to make them.

Remembering WWI
Belgium is getting ready to commemorate the hundredth
anniversary of the first conflict in which the whole world
was involved. The production company Studio 100, that
mainly focuses on children’s television and state show,
is in the final stages of negotiation to hire the Nekkerhal
in Mechelen for almost a year in order to stage a show
about the First World War. Among other shows, the public
broadcaster VRT will air an eight part show titled ‘Ten
Oorlog’ (To War). Heads of State will be invited to attend
a national memorial ceremony on October 15, 2014.


Zoo gives away four elephants
A power struggle within a group of elephants at Emmen
zoo in the Netherlands has grown so out of control that
the zoo has decided to give away four of the herd free of
charge. The power struggle erupted following the death
of the herd's matriarch Htoo Khin Aye in June, when she
collapsed and died, squashing her three-week old calf
in the process. Since then, two rival strands of the family
have been fighting it out for control. The two leading
females - Htoo Khin Aye's oldest daughter and another
elephant who is the oldest female in the group - are now
continually bullying each other, helped by their sisters
and children. The dispute has become so serious the two
groups cannot exercise at the same time and have to be
kept separated. The zoo authorities have now decided
one female, her two sons and a daughter are to be found
a new home and given away free of charge to another zoo.

Plans to sell barbed wire dropped
The foundation in charge of a former Nazi concentration
camp in the Netherlands has scrapped plans to sell pieces
of barbed wire dug up at the site following protests from
Jewish groups. The Kamp Amersfoort foundation said the
sale of 50 pieces of wire for €10 each would not go ahead.
The sale had been planned to raise money to finance an
exhibition of artifacts found on site. 'It seems we have
hurt people and that was not our intention,' said the site
director. Jewish groups had described the planned sale
as 'completely tasteless and lacking in respect'. Up to
40,000 people passed through the camp during World War
II, of whom at least half were deported to death camps.

Rescuers called off search efforts for six missing crewmen
Thursday from a cargo ship that sank in the North Sea
 after a collision with another vessel. The presumed death toll
is 11 -- taking into account the missing and five bodies found so far.
A day after the Baltic Ace capsized in international waters off
Netherlands' southern coast, search helicopters, planes and coast guard ships
were called back to their bases amid icy conditions.
"Given the water temperature and the amount of time that's passed,
we don't have any hope for more survivors," Peter Westenberg
 of the Dutch coast guard said. Westenberg said passing ships were still
being notified by radio to remain alert for possible human remains.
The 485-foot Baltic Ace sank Wednesday evening after colliding
with the 440-foot container ship Corvus J near busy shipping lanes.
The cause of the collision wasn't known.

Dutch teens charged in linesman's death
(CNN) -- The Netherlands is reeling from the death of a volunteer
soccer official at an amateur football match over the weekend
which has led to three Dutch teenagers being charged with manslaughter.
Two 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old -- all Amsterdam club Nieuw Sloten players --
were arrested and charged by Dutch police after the death
of a 41-year-old linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen,
who was beaten by players following a match against his club Buitenboys
 in the city of Almere. Nieuwenhuizen's son was playing in the
match when the incident occurred. "Two 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old from
Amsterdam, under suspicion of seriously assaulting a 41-year-old linesman
of the Buitenboys from Almere, will on Thursday appear before
a judge at the Almere court," the prosecutor's office said.
"The suspects will appear on charges of manslaughter, assault and public violence."
The judge will now decide whether to keep the three youths in detention in Amsterdam.
Nieuwenhuizen is the second man to die during an amateur football game following the
death of a 77-year-old, who was the victim of a karate kick by a 32-year-
old footballer during a game on December 3 2011.

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