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  1. #1
    Hewson Hewson is offline
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    What's wrong with the Belgians?

    Belgium has what might be called a somewhat dysfunctional society. It has three distinct groups in its population of just over 11 million speaking three distinct dialects, Dutch (Flemish), French (Walloons) and German, with the Flemish speakers making up about 58%.

    Lack of national cohesion seems to be an issue in society. Anybody who isn't familiar with the Marc Dutroux affair from the 1980/90s should read the Guardian article from 2002 linked below. It's a litany of political, security and bureaucratic incompetence on an unprecedented scale, worse than anything I can recall in any other developed country.

    The Dutroux affair was brought back to me by the revelation yesterday that Belgian health officials knew for a full month that Dutch eggs had been contaminated with a highly toxic insecticide called fipronil. In the intervening period some 10 million potentially infected eggs were sold in Germany, exposing consumers to the risk of liver, thyroid and kidney damage.

    The excuse given by the Belgians was that they were investigating possible fraud. This means that a 'possible fraud' charge took precedence over the lives and health of their fellow EU citizens. So lack of cohesion for Belgium also seems to extend to its EU membership.

    Both the Dutroux fiasco and the contaminated food issues are linked below.




    'The Dutroux affair is a scar on Belgium's national conscience which grows deeper each year. There is no other single event, bar the second world war, which has had such a traumatic and damaging effect to the country's self-image. So why the delay?

    The charge sheet against Dutroux, formerly an electrician, could not be more serious. He is said to have kidnapped and abused six girls aged between eight and 19 and killed four of them. He is also alleged to have murdered an accomplice.

    But what is worse for many is the sadism and sheer cruelty which appears to have characterised his captives' last days. Two of his alleged victims - Melissa Russo and Julie Lejeune, both eight - were sexually abused and tortured in makeshift dungeons in metal cages in his basement. Their bodies were later found in his back garden in southern Belgium. They had starved to death while Dutroux did a short stint in jail for theft.

    . . . When he was set free he was given a GBP 1,400 a month invalid's pension. Unbelievably, police also searched his house when Julie and Melissa were cowering in cages in his basement but failed to find them. They heard screaming but chose to believe Dutroux, who told them it must have been children playing outside.

    And, to add insult to injury, Dutroux briefly escaped in 1998 making a mockery of the police and prompting a wave of government resignations. Paradoxically he has also come close to being released because of the length of time it has taken to mount a case against him, a delay which his lawyers argued breached the European convention on human rights.'

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...spatch.dutroux



    'We knew since early June there was potentially a problem with fipronil in the poultry sector," spokeswoman Katrien Stragier told reporters.

    "We immediately launched an investigation and we also informed the prosecutor because it was a matter of possible fraud," she added, without giving more details.'

    Belgium says it knew about contaminated eggs in June - BBC News


    Then this, from 1999:

    'The Dioxin Affair was a political crisis that struck in Belgium during the spring of 1999. Contamination of feedstock with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) was detected in animal food products, mainly eggs and chickens. Although health inspectors reported the problem in January, measurements were taken only from May 1999 when the media revealed the case. The then Flemish Liberals and Democrats (VLD) opposition leader Guy Verhofstadt claimed that the government was trying to cover up the so-called "nota Destickere", which proved that several secretaries of state were informed much earlier that the food contained PCBs and dioxins.
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  2. #2
    Wascurito Wascurito is online now
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    I spent a year working in Belgium. I love the country and people but they'd be the first to admit that the current model doesn't work very well.
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  3. #3
    silverharp silverharp is online now
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    On the face of it you could come up with something like that for most countries in Europe? contaminated wine and olive oil scandals and weird sex abuse cases.

    politically there are issues with their "multiculturalism" , the French are mostly leftists and have used third world migration to undermine dutch communities to win political seats, its a bad start for a country
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  4. #4
    Half Nelson Half Nelson is offline
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    Belgium is a disjointed, administrative shambles, where the left hand doesn't even speak the same language as the right hand.
    Brussels has six police forces and is a breeding ground for Islamic terrorism.
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  5. #5
    Wascurito Wascurito is online now
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    Quote Originally Posted by silverharp View Post
    On the face of it you could come up with something like that for most countries in Europe? contaminated wine and olive oil scandals and weird sex abuse cases.
    The Flemish tend to point the finger at the Walloons when it comes to corruption. They refer to Liége as "Palermo-on-the-Maas". So, sometimes the two sides spend more time blaming each other than addressing the problem.

    It's possible to overstate the issues, though. I don't think Belgium is unusually dysfunctional. Most Belgians have a fantastic quality of life, the food is amazing (if you eat meat!) and I'd prefer them as colleagues to Dutch or German people.
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  6. #6
    Des Quirell Des Quirell is online now
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hewson View Post
    Belgium has what might be called a somewhat dysfunctional society. It has three distinct groups in its population of just over 11 million speaking three distinct dialects, Dutch (Flemish), French (Walloons) and German, with the Flemish speakers making up about 58%.
    . . .
    That's it in a nutshell. I've spent somewhere near four years of my working life working there and am working there at the moment. Typical advice i was given when I arrived was this: if you go to a bar listen to the language the barstaff are using. If Flemish or German order in English (unless you have either); if they are speaking in French use French. On no accounts use Flemish or German in a "French" bar and vice versa.

    It's a lovely place, though. I enjoy working there - and not only because the high-speed train makes the commute home easy of a morning or evening.
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  7. #7
    Cruimh Cruimh is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wascurito View Post
    The Flemish tend to point the finger at the Walloons when it comes to corruption.
    Sounds a bit like NI with the (squeaky clean) Unionists casting a jaundiced eye at themmuns, especially along the border!

    (Isn't this fred Wacist?)
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  8. #8
    Wascurito Wascurito is online now
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    Quote Originally Posted by Des Quirell View Post
    That's it in a nutshell. I've spent somewhere near four years of my working life working there and am working there at the moment. Typical advice i was given when I arrived was this: if you go to a bar listen to the language the barstaff are using. If Flemish or German order in English (unless you have either); if they are speaking in French use French. On no accounts use Flemish or German in a "French" bar and vice versa.

    It's a lovely place, though. I enjoy working there - and not only because the high-speed train makes the commute home easy of a morning or evening.
    I got that advice too. There was (is?) a bar in Antwerp called De Leeuw Van Vlaanderen** and I was told that I should go in there and order a biére in my best French if I wanted to find myself bouncing off the cobblestones.

    **The Lion of Flanders
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  9. #9
    fat finger fat finger is offline
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    Having a go at the Belgians now - is that you Kevin Myers?
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  10. #10
    Notachipanoaktree Notachipanoaktree is online now
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hewson View Post
    Belgium has what might be called a somewhat dysfunctional society. It has three distinct groups in its population of just over 11 million speaking three distinct dialects, Dutch (Flemish), French (Walloons) and German, with the Flemish speakers making up about 58%.

    Lack of national cohesion seems to be an issue in society. Anybody who isn't familiar with the Marc Dutroux affair from the 1980/90s should read the Guardian article from 2002 linked below. It's a litany of political, security and bureaucratic incompetence on an unprecedented scale, worse than anything I can recall in any other developed country.

    The Dutroux affair was brought back to me by the revelation yesterday that Belgian health officials knew for a full month that Dutch eggs had been contaminated with a highly toxic insecticide called fipronil. In the intervening period some 10 million potentially infected eggs were sold in Germany, exposing consumers to the risk of liver, thyroid and kidney damage.

    The excuse given by the Belgians was that they were investigating possible fraud. This means that a 'possible fraud' charge took precedence over the lives and health of their fellow EU citizens. So lack of cohesion for Belgium also seems to extend to its EU membership.

    Both the Dutroux fiasco and the contaminated food issues are linked below.




    'The Dutroux affair is a scar on Belgium's national conscience which grows deeper each year. There is no other single event, bar the second world war, which has had such a traumatic and damaging effect to the country's self-image. So why the delay?

    The charge sheet against Dutroux, formerly an electrician, could not be more serious. He is said to have kidnapped and abused six girls aged between eight and 19 and killed four of them. He is also alleged to have murdered an accomplice.

    But what is worse for many is the sadism and sheer cruelty which appears to have characterised his captives' last days. Two of his alleged victims - Melissa Russo and Julie Lejeune, both eight - were sexually abused and tortured in makeshift dungeons in metal cages in his basement. Their bodies were later found in his back garden in southern Belgium. They had starved to death while Dutroux did a short stint in jail for theft.

    . . . When he was set free he was given a GBP 1,400 a month invalid's pension. Unbelievably, police also searched his house when Julie and Melissa were cowering in cages in his basement but failed to find them. They heard screaming but chose to believe Dutroux, who told them it must have been children playing outside.

    And, to add insult to injury, Dutroux briefly escaped in 1998 making a mockery of the police and prompting a wave of government resignations. Paradoxically he has also come close to being released because of the length of time it has taken to mount a case against him, a delay which his lawyers argued breached the European convention on human rights.'

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...spatch.dutroux



    'We knew since early June there was potentially a problem with fipronil in the poultry sector," spokeswoman Katrien Stragier told reporters.

    "We immediately launched an investigation and we also informed the prosecutor because it was a matter of possible fraud," she added, without giving more details.'

    Belgium says it knew about contaminated eggs in June - BBC News


    Then this, from 1999:

    'The Dioxin Affair was a political crisis that struck in Belgium during the spring of 1999. Contamination of feedstock with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) was detected in animal food products, mainly eggs and chickens. Although health inspectors reported the problem in January, measurements were taken only from May 1999 when the media revealed the case. The then Flemish Liberals and Democrats (VLD) opposition leader Guy Verhofstadt claimed that the government was trying to cover up the so-called "nota Destickere", which proved that several secretaries of state were informed much earlier that the food contained PCBs and dioxins.
    Yep! dreadful stuff. But the hypocrisy of the above coming as it does from Ireland, FFS.

    The point, I believe, is to point the finger of raw criminality, corruption and just plain old privileged little bol*ox crying wolf, elsewhere.
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