Drink

Belgian man who went on armed rampage with gun, knives and lead pipe is bailed on condition he does not drink anymore RED BULL.

  • The slaughterhouse worker accused of assault has been granted bail
  • His lawyer said client forgot to take tranquillisers and downed Red Bull
  • Is accused of using knives, a starting pistol and lead pipe during rampage
  • Judge in Bruges court granted bail as long as he does not drink Red Bull

Belgian man

A man who appeared before a Belgian court on an assault charge has been granted bail – on condition he doesn’t drink any more Red Bull.
The court in Bruges banned the 56-year-old slaughterhouse worker from consuming the energy drink after hearing how he went berserk with two knives, a starting pistol and a lead pipe after drinking cans of Red Bull.First he hammered on the door of his former boss- who refused to open – and then he had an accident while driving his car.

The court was told he beat up the other driver and injured two policemen, who tried to arrest him.They were treated in hospital.
The Red Bull fan spent two months in pre-trial custody before appearing in court to ask for bail.

His lawyer, Mathieu Langerock said his client had forgotten to take his tranquillisers before he began downing cans of Red Bull.’That was the reason why he became so worked up,’ said Mr Langerock.’I think the decision to ban him from this particular drink is remarkable because the judge didn’t say anything about not consuming alcohol.
‘The ban will remain in force until the trial.’
A spokesman for Red Bull said: ‘The drink can be bought in 164 countries and all health organisations agree that it can be consumed in complete safety.’But Jan Tytgat, a toxicologist at Leuven University, claimed that an overdose of Red Bull combined with l alcohol could lead to aggressive behaviour.

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Travels

Under Secretary of State Sherman Travels to Belgium, Poland, and Ukraine, March 15-20.

During her visit to Brussels, Belgium on March 15, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman will meet with Belgian officials, including Ministry of Foreign Affairs Chief of Cabinet Francois de Kerchove, and participate in the German Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum with international business, political, and civil-society leaders. She will meet young professional leaders from around the world at the Young Professionals Summit, an adjunct to the German Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum.

Under Secretary Sherman will continue to Warsaw, Poland on March 17, where she will meet with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. During her visit, she will lead U.S. participation in the U.S.-Poland Strategic Dialogue to advance bilateral cooperation on defense, energy security, and democracy promotion in Europe’s Eastern Neighborhood and beyond. The Under Secretary will also meet with Polish opinion leaders.

On March 19, Under Secretary Sherman will travel to Kyiv, Ukraine, to meet with Ukrainian Government leaders to continue our dialogue on issues of mutual concern, including Ukraine’s integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions, energy security, economic reform, and advancement of democracy and human rights. The Under Secretary will also meet with opposition leaders.

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Investment firm

Gerard Depardieu

Gerard Depardieu sets up investment firm in Belgium.
Actor Gerard Depardieu, accused by the French government of trying to dodge taxes, has set up an investment company in neighbouring Belgium where taxes on wealth are far lower than in his homeland. Official documents filed on March 8 show that the star of the films Cyrano de Bergerac and Asterix had set up a company that will invest in other companies.

Holding 2712, a reference to his birthday on December 27, is based in the Belgian border town of Estaimpuis, just over a kilometre from Nechin, the village where he recently bought a house.

Nechin, a short drive from the French border, is home to some 2,800 French people including the Mulliez family, owners of the French hypermarket chain Auchan and Decathlon sports stores.

Mr Depardieu has had a public row with the French government over tax, accusing it of penalising success.

Belgian residents do not pay wealth tax, which in France is now levied on individuals with assets exceeding €1.3bn (£1.1bn), nor do they pay capital gains tax on the sale of shares.

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Budget Talks

Belgium Begins Budget Talks.

Belgium’s cabinet Tuesday began discussions aimed at curbing its budget deficit, against a tense atmosphere created by European Union warnings, a newly appointed finance minister, weakening growth and a lack of easy targets for saving money.

Ministers need to find another €2.8 billion ($3.65 billion) in order to comply with a deficit goal of 2.15% of gross domestic product in 2013, Budget Minister Olivier Chastel said in a statement. Belgium has already made budget savings of around €18 billion—equivalent to about 5% of annual economic output—since Elio Di Rupo’s six-party coalition took office in December 2011 after 18 months of political crisis.

Talks started Tuesday, will be interrupted by the EU leaders’ summit Thursday-Friday, then resume on the weekend. The senior staff of each minister will review proposals on Monday, an official close to the talks said—adding that they will “probably be quite difficult.” An official at the European Commission, the EU executive that monitors national budget performance, said it would watch the talks closely.

The government will meet the usual budget-deficit ceiling of 3% of GDP, but Belgium is on the commission’s radar because its efforts at deeper structural changes to bring down the budget deficit risk falling short. These changes include getting rid of indexing wage increases to inflation: Efforts by Mr. Di Rupo’s government to reform the indexation of pensions and public-sector salaries have led to protests and strikes.

“We expect the authorities to use the upcoming budget control exercise to take the necessary measures of a structural nature,” said EU economics chief Olli Rehn on Feb. 22.

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Structural

The commission’s concerns aren’t limited to this year’s budget. The 2012 came in at 3% of GDP—above the 2.8% target—but Eurostat, the EU’s statistics agency, could decide to include the costs of the latest bailout of troubled lender Dexia SA DEXB.BT 0.00% —pushing up the recorded deficit to 3.7%.

There has also been a change of lineup since ministers drew up the 2013 budget last November, which raised taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, cut military spending, and reduced subsidies on the nationalized postal service and railways and the SNCB state railways.

New Finance Minister Koen Geens has been in office less than a week, after he took over from Steven Vanackere, who resigned citing a “climate of mistrust” and “false allegations” about his dealings with labor movements.

Mr. Geens, an academic from the center-right CD&V party, said he hoped the necessary tweaks could be made with one-off measures in order to comply with the goal of 2.15%.

Mr. Geens told VRT Radio that he believed the structural changes should be delayed for the 2014 budget. “It’s in the next budget round that the structural measures should come,” he said.

Not everyone agrees the goal should be met. Laurette Onkelinx, a vice-president from the French-speaking socialist party, has repeatedly called for the budget goal to be softened this year as the country’s economy falters.

The Belgian National Bank now expects zero growth in 2013, while the budget was drawn up on an expectation of 0.7% GDP growth. The country has been hit with enormous industrial layoffs at companies including Ford F -0.67% Motor Co., ArcelorMittal MT -0.30% and Caterpillar Inc.

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Bruges

Belgium jails man for tearing up Koran.

Bruges – A court in Belgium has sentenced a man to four months in prison for tearing up a Koran, which was thrown at his head by a group of angry Muslims.
Europe News reported a man, identified only as Arne S., attended a demonstration in the Belgium city of Ostend in June 2012. Following the protest words were exchanged between Arne S. and a group of about a dozen Muslims in a cafe, who proceeded to throw a copy of the Koran at his head.
The man reacted by tearing the Koran up in front of the group.
Olivier Ryde, Arne’s lawyer, argued in the Bruges court that his client had not infringed Belgium’s law on hate speech, according to Front Page Mag. Nevertheless, the court in Bruges imposed a fine of €600 on Arne S., in addition to sentencing him to four-months in prison.
There may be more to the story than the scant details which have appeared in the Belgium press. However, as the details are reported the case is a striking example of why Belgium is proposing limiting the influence of Islamic political parties

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Holiday program

Taiwan, Belgium ink working holiday program agreement.

Taiwan and Belgium have inked an agreement on a reciprocal working holiday program for young adults, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.Under the program, which is set to take effect on March 29, each nation would provide an annual quota of 200 visas for nationals aged between 18 and 30, the ministry’s Department of European Affairs director-general Hsu Mien-sheng  said.

This would allow young people from Taiwan and Belgium to work, travel and study in each other’s country for up to one year, Hsu said at a news briefing.“This program serves as a good opportunity for young Taiwanese adults to learn more about Europe,” he said.

Taiwan is the first Asian country to ink such a pact with Belgium, which has similar agreements with Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the ministry said.Belgium is the fourth European country to sign a working holiday agreement with Taiwan, after Germany, the UK and Ireland.
Under Taiwan’s working holiday programs, young Taiwanese can also travel to Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
Hsu said he is optimistic that Taiwan and France would finalize a working holiday agreement by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, the government of the Czech Republic has decided to include Taiwan in its green card program, under which Taiwanese hired to work there can apply for a permit for long-term residence for employment purposes, Hsu said.

Under the program, which was implemented on Feb. 20, Taiwanese working in the Czech Republic have been able to apply for a green card that combines a residence permit and a work permit in a single document, intended to simplify entry to the job market for foreigners, Hsu said.
The green cards are valid for up to three years.The cards will only be issued to people taking jobs that have not been successfully filled by workers from the Czech Republic or other members of the EU.

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Popularity

.eu increases popularity in Bulgaria, Belgium and Slovenia.

Popularity

Latest .eu progress report based on the last trimester of 2012 shows that the total number of domain registrations increased in 22 of the 27 EU member states. The countries which saw growth of more than 5% were Bulgaria, Belgium and Slovenia.

According to the results of the study released by EURid, the domain name became especially popular in Belgium where the total number of .eu domain names in quarter four reached 130 120. To compare, the total number in the previous two trimesters was respectively 120 298 and 116 656, while in the first months of 2012- 115 764.

A significant increase was marked also in Slovenia- from only 9 825 .eu domain names in the beginning of 2012, their total number in the end of the year reached 11 161.
In Bulgaria, in total 21 820 domain names were registered in the country in the fourth and last quarter of 2012. In comparison, a trimester earlier, this number was 19 695. Even though, the interest dropped between quarter two and quarter three, compared to the beginning of year when the total number reached was 20 535, the last trimester of 2012 marked a general increase in the popularity of .eu in Bulgaria.

In addition, EURid found that on average, 80% of .eu domain names were renewed in 2012. According to the organisation, this is the sixth year running that .eu has maintained such a high renewal rate, indicating that .eu domain name holders are a loyal group.

The top-level domain finished the quarter, and the year, with 3.7 million registrations – an annual growth of 5.4%, with around 230 752 new registrations made only in the last trimester.

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International starts

Giro d’Italia to start in Belgium in 2016?

Acquarone opens doors for more international starts.Michele Acquarone and RCS Sport have shown they are not afraid to innovate by deciding to hold the Grande Partenza of the 2014 Giro d’Italia in Ireland, with stages in Belfast and Dublin, before a transfer back to Italy.

UCI rules no longer allow rest days early in stage races or allow them to be used for long transfers. The 2014 Giro d’Italia will begin with three stages in Ireland, with stage four in Italy being held the following day. The whole Giro caravan will fly between Ireland and Italy. It could be a logistical nightmare but if RCS Sport pulls it off, then future editions of the Giro d’Italia could start from anywhere in the world.”The start in Ireland will be a big test for the future of the Giro d’Italia. Everything has to work perfectly. If it works, we can go everywhere: Belgium, the United States and yes, even Dubai,” Acquarone said.

Antwerp is apparently a strong candidate to host the start of the 2016 edition in Belgium. The Giro d’Italia most recently started in Belgium in 2006.”There’s no place in the world where cycling is loved like in Belgium.”It’s loved in Italy but it’s the national sport in Belgium,” Acquarone said, happy to flirt with candidate cities.

“We’ve had a lot of talks with different countries to talk about the Giro d’Italia in the future, including some in Belgium. The 2015 Expo in Italy will probably mean the Giro d’Italia will start in Italy then but we could start in Belgium in 2016. Why not? We’re speaking to people and I hope to soon announce a Grande Partenza from Belgium it’s always been a great start in the past and so I can’t wait to go back.”

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Auto workers

Vote Nears at Troubled Ford Plant in Belgium.

Auto workers at a Ford Motor Co. F -0.33% plant in Belgium are set to decide on a severance offer from the company aimed at closing the facility and ending weeks of confrontation between unions and management.

Some 4,000 workers at Ford’s plant in Genk, 60 miles east of Brussels, vote Friday on an agreement union leaders reached with the company last year on proposed payments to workers intended to soften the blow of the closing of the 49-year-old plant by the end of next year.

The outcome of the vote is uncertain. The plant has operated only a few weeks in total since October. Belgian workers have occupied the plant, halted production and blocked the shipment to dealers of a few thousand new vehicles parked at the location.

In Cologne, Germany, which serves as a headquarters for Ford’s European operations, workers have held union leaders against their will for hours at a time in protest against Ford’s plan to close the Genk plant, as well as two plants in Britain. At one point, workers rushed into a building, smashed a plate-glass window and ransacked several offices.

Workers have also picketed Ford’s suppliers, disrupting parts shipments to Genk, which makes the Ford Mondeo sedan, the S-Max wagon and Galaxy minivan. Production of those vehicles is supposed to shift to a plant in Valencia, Spain.

Rohnny Champagne, leader of the labor union’s ABVV Limberg region, said that under the proposed severance agreement, Ford would pay hourly workers up to 2½ years of income, based on experience and type of job. For example, an electrician with 33 years of service would get €120,000 ($156,516) in severance pay.

Mr. Champagne declined to speculate on the vote outcome, as did a Ford spokesman. Workers’ emotions have been inflamed by the fact that Ford was on its way to an annual profit of $5.7 billion when it made its Genk decision. Ford’s European operations, like those of several other auto makers, are hurting, however. The company expects to lose $2 billion in Europe this year, reflecting in part the cost of closing plants.

Ford said European sales of vehicles built in Genk declined 76% in January compared with a year earlier, due to shortages. February figures aren’t yet available.

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Europes economic troubles

Because of Europe’s economic troubles, auto sales in the region have declined five years in a row and are expected to extend the streak this year. Last year, auto sales in Europe fell 8.2% to just over 12 million passenger vehicles, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.

If Friday’s severance vote fails, Ford officials could consider closing Genk immediately, a person familiar with the matter said.

The efforts to disrupt Ford’s business involve five different unions and illustrate the difficulty of closing auto plants in Europe. During the 2008-2009 financial crisis, auto makers closed more than a dozen plants in the U.S., but hardly any in Europe, where governments and union opposed cutbacks. Belgian officials have estimated the closure of Genk will eliminate more than 11,000 jobs in total, including the impact on Ford’s parts suppliers.

Ford announced its plan to close Genk last year, along with an assembly plant and a stamping plant in England. It also said it would add several new vehicles to its European lineup, including several redone commercial vans, the Mustang sports car and the Ford Edge and EcoSport sport-utility vehicles.

Justin Bowden, national officer at U.K. labor union GMB, said that a majority of the 500-strong workforce had agreed to accept a “package of enhanced redundancy terms” at the Southampton van plant, one of the two British plants slated to close in March. Negotiations continue on keeping about 100 workers to work at the docks where Ford retains an interest for exporting engines and components.

At Dagenham, where Ford is closing its metal-stamping and tool plant affecting 700 jobs, there aren’t enough workers accepting the “voluntary” redundancy packages, Mr. Bowden said. Many of the skilled workers, such as the toolmakers, don’t want to transfer to the unskilled positions offered as an option.

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Bird rate

WODCON XX: Deadline Etended for Early Bird Registration (Belgium).

Bird rate

The winter seems has extended its departure day from Brussels, and so did the WODCON early bird rate.

The organisers are seeing a very positive response from delegates registering for the Congress and they have decided to give the opportunity to more delegates to join this major event at the early bird discounted rate.

Background.
World Dredging Congresses (June 3-7, 2013, Square Meeting Centre, Brussels, Belgium) are organised once every three years by WODA, the World Organisation of Dredging Associations.

First organised in 1967 in New York and held throughout the world since, this series of congresses has become the unique most important event for dredging professionals worldwide.

WODCONs, the only worldwide events dedicated exclusively to dredging and maritime construction, provide a unique platform for researchers and practitioners from industry, academia and governments to meet and debate dredging.WODCON XX will showcase some 120 technical papers over three days covering all aspects of dredging and maritime construction.

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Speak

JANELLE RABE, FUNDRAISING COORDINATOR: They’re very, very excited! They’ve actually been having French lessons to learn how to speak French when they go there. And they’re also always telling me they want to see the Eiffel tower and other places in Paris!

It’s a dream come true for all the kids in the choir but it’s a particularly special opportunity for the four members who come from Divisoria.
Dioscorra, Ramil, Jomar and Trixie, the choir’s youngest member, were discovered through the group’s street education program.
Volunteer teachers and social workers collect street children in the area for afternoon lessons in a portable classroom.
Most of the students have never gone to an actual school.
These simple lessons are the only way for them to meet positive role models who open their eyes to opportunities in the world.
Dioscorra and the others auditioned for the choir program, and they haven’t stopped coming since.
Now, they’re looking forward to their first overseas performance, and their first ride on an airplane.

DISCORRA: I’m happy and excited that I’ll be able to go to a new place and see new places!

Their big adventure is being supported by a handful of donors, helping out with airline tickets to clothes for the chillier climate.
But they still can’t afford other expenses on the trip.

JANELLE RABE: We’ve been getting some sponsorships and donations, but at the moment we’re still looking for financial donations from individuals or companies who’d want to help in the living expenses for the choir in Europe.

The Foundation hopes that last minute donors will step forward in the final hours.
But for the next three weeks, the choir members are busy practicing their repertoire and excited to pack their bags for new horizons ahead.

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Leaders

EU SUMMIT: Belgium, Greece Push for Growth to Tackle Rampant Unemployment.

Belgium and Greece Thursday called on European Union leaders to urgently turn their attention to boosting growth in Europe to tackle spiraling jobless rates across the continent.
Speaking as he arrived at a summit of EU leaders, Greek Prime Minister Antonio Samaras said growth is now the “number one problem” in Europe, “because lack of growth creates unemployment.”

“In Greece this is even more severe because we suffer from the highest unemployment rate in Europe. So we realize how important the meeting is today,” he said.

Unemployment has soared over the past three years in Greece, which was forced by its lenders to implement drastic austerity cuts, with a current jobless rate of around 27%. The rate of young jobless stands at nearly 60%, the highest in Europe.

Belgian leader Elio di Rupo also banged the drum for a rethink at the two-day summit, when he and his colleagues are set to put the debate on growth versus austerity at the top of their agenda.Citing 26 million unemployed in Europe, Mr. di Rupo said it is “only normal” that the EU pursue growth-friendly policies.

“We are really hoping we can make progress on this,” he said, adding that citizens need to be able to live in greater prosperity.
However, a split remains among EU partners regarding economic strategies, with France’s Francois Hollande earlier again calling for greater fiscal “flexibility,” while Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said it remains important for countries to put their finances in order.

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Raise money

North Holmwood brothers to cycle from Belgium to Silverstone to raise money for hospice.

TWO brothers are taking on a harsh physical challenge to raise £20,000 in memory of a friend who died from a brain tumour earlier this year.

Kieron and Darrell Hughes, from North Holmwood, will cycle the 500 miles between the Spa motor racing circuit in Belgium and Silverstone in five days this summer.

Joined by friends Paul Taylor and Jon Wilkins – from Sutton and Tadworth respectively – the quartet have taken on the challenge to raise funds for St Raphael’s Hospice in Cheam, where 36-year-old Charles Dodson spent his last days.

Holmbury Drive resident Kieron Hughes, 34, told the Advertiser the former estate agent was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour two years ago and had fought bravely before being admitted to the hospice in October.

He died there on January 3, leaving behind his wife Louise and three-year-old daughter Isla.
Mr Hughes said: “We knew this would happen to our friend, but nothing prepared us for what they did.”St Raphael’s were amazing. They enabled us to visit our friend and see him, knowing he was in the best hands.”He was comfortable, surrounded by friends and received amazing care.”Our intentions are to raise money and awareness for St Raphael’s as places like this hospice rely on funding.”

The quartet, who have named their cycling team Four Charlie, hope to begin their journey on June 23 with a lap of the track at Spa.They then aim to arrive at Silverstone in time for the British Grand Prix on June 28.The route was chosen in tribute to Formula One enthusiast Mr Dodson, who was also a big fan of cycling – unlike his friends.

Self employed builder Mr Hughes, who is now in intensive training, said: “We are by no means cycling enthusiasts or even remotely fit.”We just have to look at bikes and are out of breath.”It’s going to be a struggle, but we’re excited about the challenge.”

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Prices of chicory

Belgium: Chicory prices still not at a constant level.

It’s been relatively quiet in the Belgian fruit and vegetable trade these past few days, and this has partly to do with the weather. According to Bart Chartier of Herwi Ruris, trading was a little different than usual last Tuesday (March 12). “Because of the winter weather, people were advised to stay indoors that morning, and most of the traffic just stopped. This of course, had significant impact on the sales of our products. It remains to be seen how the weather will affect sales next week.”

“In the first few months of the year the prices of chicory were not great. Last week was a bit better, but prices are still not at a constant level,” according to the trader. “Monday there was a small increase of 10 to 15 cents, but that didn’t last. What the chicory will do in the coming weeks is highly dependent on the weather. Once the spring arrives, consumers tend to go for peppers, asparagus, cucumbers and lettuce. It’s always a difficult time for chicory trade. We are told that in France the largest volumes are gone now, so maybe that opens up some opportunities for our export.”

High prices for leeks.Bart also indicates that the prices for leeks are currently very high. “For growers that’s positive, but to sellers it’s not easy. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

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New plant

Aleris International opens new aluminum mill in Belgium.

Beachwood aluminum company Aleris International opened its biggest European expansion in years on Thursday, a $70 million plant in Duffel, Belgium.

The new plant, which employs nearly 1,000 people, makes wide sheets of aluminum for the auto industry. Automakers can stamp out huge body panels from the sheets, making massive structural components instead of simply doors, hoods and smaller parts.

In a statement Aleris Chairman and Chief Executive Steve Demetriou said, “As more of our automotive customers turn to aluminum as a solution to meet new fuel-efficiency standards, we believe our new cold mill will help us meet increased demand worldwide.”

Aleris began building the mill in 2011, when the outlook for Europe’s automotive market was much rosier than it is now. Ford and General Motors lost a combined $4 billion in Europe last year as economic crises in multiple countries have hammered auto sales.

Auto sales have improved dramatically in North America, South America and Asia, but analysts expect European automotive sales and production to fall this year and for years to come.

Aleris spokeswoman Shannon Bennett said the company is still confident that the new mill will be a busy supplier for automakers. Ideally, the market would be growing to feed that demand, but as long as automakers continue to increase their use of aluminum over steel, Aleris should benefit.”Our customers are telling us that they need material solutions for their future needs,” Bennett said.

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Face

USA set to face Belgium in Cleveland.

The USA will face Belgium May 29 in a friendly at Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium. The match, which will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and WatchESPN at 8 p.m. ET, will be one of two or three friendlies to be held before the USA plays a crucial set of three World Cup 2014 qualifiers in June.

The USA will host Belgium for the first time. Their first meeting in 1930 came at the World Cup in Uruguay, and the three most recent games were all friendlies played in Belgium.

The USA is scheduled to face Germany June 2 at Washington’s RFK Stadium to celebrate U.S. Soccer’s 100th anniversary. There have been unconfirmed reports of a third friendly to be played before the Belgium game.

The USA plays at Jamaica June 7 before hosting Panama June 11 and Honduras June 18. The games are part of two double-fixture weeks FIFA has scheduled in June.

The USA played a series of five games — three friendlies and two qualifiers — in 2012 with mixed success. Its only wins were 5-1 over Scotland in the first friendly and 3-1 over Antigua & Barbuda in the opening game of the semifinal round of qualifying.

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Hacked

Hacked

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Pop star

Ex-Britney Spears Confidante Sobs Over Death Threats.

The former confidante of pop star Britney Spears broke down on the witness stand on Wednesday, saying his villainous portrayal in a book written by the singer’s mother triggered a deluge of death threats that drove him into a suicidal depression.
“If I went anywhere public, people were assaulting me,” Sam Lutfi told jurors at a civil trial in Los Angeles.
“People I knew were shunning me. There were numerous postings online on websites … that were threats to kill me. People wishing that I was dead,” Lutfi said, choking up and beginning to cry. “People wishing harm on my family.”
Lutfi, who emerged as Spears’ closest friend during her 2007 personal and career meltdown, was testifying for the second day in his lawsuit against the “Toxic” superstar and her parents.
He is suing Britney’s mother, Lynne Spears, alleging she libeled him in her 2008 book, “Through the Storm,” and made him a scapegoat for the singer’s problems.
He is also suing Britney Spears for a chunk of her earnings, claiming she hired him as her manager soon after meeting him in 2007. And he is suing her father, Jamie Spears, for assault.
Lutfi said on Wednesday that Spears’ father chased him, punched him and threatened to kill him in her Los Angeles home in early 2008.
“(Jamie Spears) was spitting and shouting, yelling at me, telling me that I had hurt his daughter and I had better leave or he was going to beat the hell out of me,” Lutfi testified.

STARK CONTRAST.
The trial, which began last week, has offered a glimpse into Spears’ private life during her highly publicized crisis five years ago, including a divorce, a bitter child custody battle, a head-shaving incident and claims of amphetamine abuse.
Lutfi’s tearful testimony provided a stark contrast to his cross-examination, during which Spears family attorneys read details from four restraining orders filed against him since 2004 in which the family, and other associates of Lutfi, accused him of threatening and terrorizing them and their relatives.
Joel Boxer, attorney for Britney Spears’ estate, asked Lutfi if, during the time he claimed he was Britney’s manager, he set up or presented any entertainment industry deals for the singer. Lutfi said no.
Lutfi has said he met Britney Spears at a nightclub in 2007 and that she quickly hired him as her manager and promised him 15 percent of the $800,000-plus she earned each month.
Attorneys representing Spears say Lutfi was preying on the singer during a vulnerable period in her life.
Jurors on Wednesday watched video footage showing a distraught and angry Spears being hounded by paparazzi in 2007. In one clip, the Louisiana native shouted at photographers in a fake British accent. In another, she was seen sitting on the sidewalk, cradling her dog and crying as paparazzi snapped photographs and taunted her.
Spears, now 30, whose personal and business affairs are still overseen by a conservator, has since made a comeback, releasing several hit albums and landing a judging spot on TV talent show “The X-Factor.”
She is not attending the trial and is not expected to testify.

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Romantic Date

Jennie Garth Dating Jason Clark? Couple Spotted on Romantic Date.

Jennie Garth is getting over her recent divorce by returning to the dating scene.

This week the actress was seen on a date with Jason Clark, a successful Los Angeles businessman. The 40-year-old former “Beverly Hills, 90210″ actress was spotted Sunday night with Clark in West Hollywood, Calif., according to Us Weekly.
“She looked super cute,” said an onlooker speaking to the magazine. “She loved the music and sat in the front row. It was just the two of them alone.”

According to the Daily Mail, Clark is supposedly a managing director of healthcare solutions at Jones Lang LaSalle in L.A. Us Weekly reported that this was apparently the first date the couple has been on and according to insider sources, it seemed the two hit it off.

Garth separated from an 11 year marriage with her husband Perer Facinelli in March. The actress and her ex-husband have three daughters: Fiona Eve, 5, Lola Ray, 9, and Luca Belle, 15.

The split was difficult for Garth, who told NBC the following: “”It was something we were working through together. As anybody who’s been through it, it’s always kind of shocking when it ends up finally happening. It was sad for our family unit,” continued the actress. “We’re a really great family, and we always will be, because we have three beautiful daughters together.”

Garth also spoke about the emotional pain from her divorce.
“I spent a couple of years lying in bed and being depressed. It was that ‘I can’t breathe’ pain,” she said. “Physically I didn’t look my best and mentally I didn’t feel my best. I was doing everything I could to be a good mom but that was all I could handle.”

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Free dating site

Free Dating for Singles This Winter.

Winter is a fun and exciting time to be in a relationship and new couples often take great pleasure in experiencing the season together. October and November are full of fun activities and dates for the calendar while December obviously brings with it the Christmas party season and the Christmas holidays.

Internet dating sites often see a rise in membership when the winter arrives because people are keen to discover a bit of added romance in order to make the season more fun and more comfortable. It’s widely reported every year that Christmas can be difficult for those spending the season alone and online dating is seen by many as a way of keeping things fun instead of gloomy and cold.

Free dating site is one of the dating sites that is currently enjoying more traffic from people interested in meeting single members with whom they can enjoy the party season. Getting involved at this time of year often depends on opportunities that present themselves in a social or romantic capacity and sites like free dating site just give people an easier and more convenient way of inviting those opportunities.

Visitors to the website will currently be able to take advantage of free registration that enables them to get started on the basics of internet dating such as creating a profile and searching for other members already registered on the site. Registration is instantaneous so people can start looking for dates and making connections in time to make the party season a positive one.

Christmas is a time of year that is closely associated with romance and the increased popularity of internet dating as a bona fide resource when it comes to giving people’s love life a boost is helping to ensure that the association stands firm.

Free dating site with a proven track record of helping single people around the world to find one another and embark upon lasting relationships. The UK site has recently undergone major expansion enabling the platform to serve even more single people in different areas of the UK with new and exciting features and functions.

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Companies in Europe

The Ford Motor Company has broken from the pack of troubled European automakers, announcing deep cuts that include shutting three factories in the region and eliminating 5,700 jobs.
The moves by Ford were the most dramatic made so far among the struggling car companies in Europe, where sales have fallen to nearly a 20-year low and production capacity far outstrips current demand.

Ford, the second-largest American automaker, is following the same blueprint to downsize operations that it used to turn around its North American business.

The company said Thursday that it now expected to lose more than $1.5 billion in Europe this year, up from an earlier estimate of at least $1 billion in losses. It said the cuts would save about $500 million in annual costs, and help Ford return to profitability in the region by mid-decade.

Ford’s chief executive, Alan R. Mulally, said Thursday that the automaker was working with its unions in Belgium and Britain to assist workers affected by the factory closings.

“We recognize the impact our actions will have on many employees and their families in Europe, and we will work together with all stakeholders during this necessary transformation of our business,” Mr. Mulally said in a conference call with analysts and reporters.

Ford had said Wednesday that it would close its assembly plant in Genk, Belgium, by the end of 2014. On Thursday, it said it would also shutter two plants in Southampton and Dagenham in England next year. The actions will reduce production capacity in Europe by 18 percent, or 355,000 vehicles. The company said it would eliminate 4,300 positions in Belgium and 1,400 in Britain.

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European

The moves contrast with those of other auto companies that have either avoided plant closings altogether, or scheduled shutdowns several years down the road.
European auto sales have fallen to a projected 14 million vehicles this year, down from about 18 million in 2008. Ford’s European chief, Stephen Odell, said the market may drop even further next year, making production adjustments essential for a long-term turnaround on the continent.

“It’s fairly evident there is surplus capacity across most manufacturers,” Mr. Odell said. “At some point it has to be addressed.”

Renault underscored the gloom, saying Thursday that its third-quarter revenue fell 13.3 percent from a year earlier, to €8.45 billion, or $11 billion. It warned that “the continuous deterioration of the European market remains a source of concern.”

Several automakers have pledged to reduce capacity in Europe, but actually closing plants has proved difficult.

Since 2007, only three European auto plants have been shuttered: a Saab Automobile plant in Trollhattan, Sweden, which closed because the company collapsed; a General Motors factory in Antwerp, Belgium; and a Fiat plant in Termini, Italy.

Alix Partners, a consulting firm, said that Europe was drowning in car factories, with 26 percent overcapacity, equivalent to 7 million units in a shrinking market.

Only 54 percent of Italian auto manufacturing capacity is being used, Alix estimated, and just 60 percent of French capacity. That contrasts with 89 percent capacity usage in Germany, where most of the region’s strongest carmakers are based, and about 90 percent capacity usage in the United States.

General Motors has been negotiating with union leaders to close its large Opel plant in Bochum, Germany, and has said it intends to end production there by 2016.

The French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroën had announced plans in July to close a plant in Aulnay-sous-Bois, near Paris, and to lay off 8,000 workers in France. But the company may find it politically challenging to proceed with those cuts after the French government announced on Wednesday that it will provide €7 billion, or $9 billion, in state credit guarantees to Peugeot’s finance unit.
Ford said it is moving forward with its plans despite opposition from its unions.
“We are determined these are measures we have to take,” said Mr. Odell.

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The company

The company has entered into a “consultation process” with its union in Belgium on compensating employees who will lose their jobs there. Ford wants to move production of cars like the midsize Mondeo from the Genk facility to a factory in Spain.
In a statement released late Wednesday, after Ford told workers in Belgium about the planned plant closure, union officials expressed outrage at Ford’s moves, saying the company reversed an earlier promise to build the new Mondeo model in Genk.
“The consequences will be catastrophic,” said the statement by the union, ACV-CSC Metea. “This is criminal.”
In Britain, Roger Maddison, national officer for the automotive industry in the British union Unite, told the BBC that the announcements had taken workers by surprise. “We were absolutely gutted here,” he said.
“It’s a world-class facility with a world-class work force,” Mr. Maddison said, referring to the Southampton plant, “and the reason being given clearly is they can make these bits in Russia cheaper than they can make them here in the U.K.”
Ford said it expected to conclude the union consultation process within six months. Company officials declined to estimate the cost of compensating laid-off workers.
Auto analysts hailed Ford’s moves as a necessary step to better balance its production with shrinking demand across the region. One analyst, Brian Johnson of Barclays Capital, said the company was currently using only 66 percent of its production capacity.
Investors will be watching closely to see whether Ford’s moves will set off similar cutbacks at other car companies.
“Ford is demonstrating the vision and industrial courage to make tough decisions that will pay off long term,” Adam Jonas, an analyst with Morgan Stanley, said in a research note. “The biggest question is, can others follow in Ford’s footsteps?”

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Report

Taylor Swift & Conor Kennedy Break Up: report.

Taylor Swift has just ended up with more material for another studio album.
Swift, the country crooner known for turning heartbreak into Grammy gold, has broken up with Conor Kennedy.
“They quietly parted ways a while ago,” Taylor’s friend told US weekly. “It was just a distance thing. No hard feelings. They’re fine.”
The relationship troubles stemmed from the distance and Swift’s hectic work schedule. Her new album, “Red” was recently released this week and is expected to sell 1 million copies in one week. Swift has been traveling extensively to promote her latest effort.
“It’s been over a month since they’ve even seen each other,” the friend explained. “With her promotion for Red, she has no time off until the end of the year.”
The “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” hooked up with Kennedy, a high school junior, at his family’s iconic Hyannisport, Massachusetts compound. The 18-year-old’s father is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the late Mary Richardson Kennedy, and his grandmother is Ethel Kennedy.
The couple appeared to be inseparable this summer, spending a lot of time together. The two were seen on and off the beach kissing and holding hands, and Kennedy even accompanied Swift on a previous trip to Nashville, where he met her parents.
Things have become so serious that a source told New York Post while his relatives really liked her and felt “their lovey-dovey behavior is cute… it has made others in the family feel a little uncomfortable.”
Another source told New York Post that the “We Belong Together” singer goes deep with her love interests and gets attached quickly.
“She always falls very hard and becomes very intense very quickly, and this time is no exception. In fact she seems to have fallen even harder,” the source said.
Swift had never confirmed the relationship. She is known for discussing her personal life but has won multiple awards for writing songs inspired by her heartbreak.
“I don’t talk about my personal life in great detail,” the country singer said. “I write about it in my songs, and I feel like you can share enough about your life in your music to let people know what you’re going through.”
Reports suggest that Swift and her boyfriend first hit it off when she helped him cope with the recent death of his mother, who committed suicide earlier this year.
Swift has dated John Mayer, Jake Gyllenhaal, Joe Jonas, Taylor Lautner and Cory Monteith.

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PVC

Belgium’s Solvay Q3 income up 3% as PVC markets remain challenged.

Belgium chemicals group Solvay reported net income of Eur148 million ($191 million) for the third quarter of 2012 Thursday up 3% from Eur143 million in Q3 2011, but down over 64% from Q2 2012 income of Eur244 million. Net sales for the quarter were up 1% to Eur3.29 billion compared to the year before.

In the Plastics business unit, the company reported Q3 2012 EBIT of Eur168 million, up 8% from the year before, on sales of Eur994 million, which was 8% higher. The strong performance in the specialty polymers sector was the main driver for the rise in the unit’s earnings before interest and tax, with this sector contributing a record of Eur359 million in sales (up 18%) and earnings of Eur115 million (up 24%). However, sales in its Vinyls sector, which is part of this business unit, saw marginal growth of 3% to Eur635 million, while earnings saw a year-on-year decline of 13% to Eur52 million.
“In Europe, demand for PVC remained low and volatile as a consequence of important ethylene price movements,” the company said. “In Latin America, production was impacted by reduced ethylene supplies in Argentina but improved slightly in Brazil. In Thailand, Vinythai operated at full capacity,” the company said.

The European monthly ethylene contract price started this year at Eur1,120/mt FD NWE, reaching a high of Eur1,345/mt in April and settled at Eur1,290/mt in October. The contract price in Q3 2012 averaged Eur1,180/mt, Eur72/mt higher than Q3 2011, according to Platts data, highlighting the higher feedstock costs that PVC producers like Solvay have to manage, while balancing weak demand due to the poor global economic conditions.

The Chemicals unit contributed to the positive result, with EBIT at Eur99 million, up 30% from Q3 2011, on net sales of Eur758 million, up 7% from Q3 2011. Caustic soda continued to benefit “from good volumes coupled with slightly higher selling prices,” the company said, while soda ash demand “remained satisfactory” as “demand in China stagnated,” the company added.

Meanwhile, Solvay’s Rhodia unit, which produces polyamide (for nylon) and acetow (for fiber) among othe rproducts, saw EBIT rise 12% in Q3 2012 to Eur210 million, despite a 6% decline in net sales to Eur1.54 billion. The company reported “record results” in its consumer chemicals unit, citing “good demand and continued exceptional earnings contribution from its Indian native-guar JV”.

“While differentiated market dynamics by business segments persisted in the third quarter, the breadth and quality of the product portfolio allowed Solvay to post another set of good results,” said CEO Jean-Pierre Clamadieu. But looking ahead, the company said the fragile macroeconomic environment “reduces visibility across markets and industries,” adding that it expected a seasonal slowdown from some market segments.

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Belgium Premier

Belgium’s Premier Blunderer.

Belgium’s former prime minister Yves Leterme made a fresh Twitter blunder Thursday morning when he accidentally sent a personal message to all his 55,100 followers. His tweet read: “Good morning. Couldn’t sleep a wink after our phone call… XX PS: Bad news for Ford.” By the time he realized his mistake and had deleted his tweet, many of his followers had re-tweeted the post, helping it go viral in minutes.

It’s unclear to whom he had spoken, but the bad news for Ford was presumably the news from Ford Motor Co. F +2.16% that it will close its Belgian car plant.

This was not the first time that Mr. Leterme mis-tweeted. During a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo last year, he tweeted to all his followers: “Not at all. Want to learn to know you. You too?”. Mr. Leterme then scrapped the message and tweeted that “it must have been the heat”.

Mr. Leterme, who is now deputy secretary-general at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris but remains a major political figure at home, is so well-known for his gaffes that the Flemish coined a term in his honour: To do a “Letermeke” roughly translates as ‘to blunder’.

He famously fanned the heated debate over Belgium’s future a few years ago, quipping that that the only things all Belgians had in common were “the King, the football team, some beers…” That comment was made at a time of large electoral gains by Flemish separatists calling for independence from the French-speaking part of Belgium, Wallonia. In another immortal remark made before he became prime minister in 2008, Mr. Leterme accused the Walloons of being “intellectually not capable of learning Dutch.”

Belgians television viewers later had a field day when, asked if he knew the Walloon version of the Belgian national anthem, he sang the Marseillaise – the French national anthem – instead of the Brabançonne. Not bad going for a prime minister of a linguistically-divided nation.

Mr. Leterme did attempt to step out of the spotlight by throwing in the prime ministerial towel three times. He traipsed over to the royal palace with his resignation letter twice in 2008 and again in 2011. Belgium’s long-suffering King Albert II allowed Mr. Leterme the pleasure of stepping down only once, and he ended up heading the longest-serving caretaker government in the world, overseeing years of crisis talks while the Flemish and Walloons tried to resolve their political differences. They are still trying…

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The dating rumors

James Franco: I’m NOT Dating Ashley Benson.

The 34-year-old actor recently composed a blog post for Huffington Post and laid the dating rumors to rest.
“I also hear that I’ve been dating Selena Gomez, Kristen Stewart and Ashley Benson. Hot damn, am I a lucky guy,” Franco wrote.
The “Spring Breakers” star went on to add, “I wish I had actually gotten closer than the 13th row of the theater in Toronto where Kristen gave her On the Road Q and A, but I didn’t; not only did I not talk to her, I didn’t even go to the SoHo house where I supposedly asked her out on a date. As for Gomez and Benson, those are Bieber’s girls and I wouldn’t dare tangle with the Biebs. I heard he wants to kick my ass. Yikes!”
Rumors began when the pair was spotted out together at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. A source revealed that Ashley and James were holding onto one another while going through the exhibit.

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New Belgium Brewing

New Belgium Brewing’s Clips of Faith raises $117,656.

New Belgium Brewing’s Clips of Faith traveling film festival raised $117,656 this year for nonprofits around the country.

The third annual traveling film festival put on by the Fort Collins-based brewery hit 18 cities across the country this summer and saw an estimated 16,400 people came out for the homemade films and handmade beers, New Belgium announced this week.

“We appreciate the hospitality we experienced in each city on the tour,” said Christie Catania, Clips of Faith Manager-at-Large in a prepared statement. “We had a fantastic lineup of films, awesome partners and we feel fortunate getting to share our nights alongside friends across the country. Our favorite part is working with our local nonprofit partners, to help them raise money for causes that better the local community.”

While the tour made a stop in Fort Collins at Road 34, New Belgium media relations director Bryan Simpson said in an email that the brewery has focused Clips of Faith as a traveling program for towns that don’t have the same access to New Belgium because resources are tight and other local events during the summer such as bike-in movies at the brewery and the Colorado Brewers’ Festival.

Simpson said the Road 34 show was well attended and they plan to offer something similar next year, however the event did not contribute to the total raised as there was no nonprofit organization associated with the local show.

The only other Colorado stop was Boulder where 1,600 attendees raised $10,421 raised for local nonprofits. Of those who came, 27 percent rode their bikes. Knoxville, Tenn. raised the most money on the tour with 1,000 attendees raising $12,587.

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Started talks

Belgium PM: Need to Find EUR3-4 Billion of Savings in 2013 Budget.

Belgium’s government is discussing how to find between 3 billion euros ($3.9 billion) and EUR4 billion in budget savings next year to comply with European Union budget deficit goals, the country’s prime minister said Thursday.

“Unfortunately, we have to find another EUR3-EUR4 billion in the next few days for the 2013 budget…An unprecedented challenge,” said Elio di Rupo, according the text of a speech.

Belgium aims to have a balanced budget in 2015 and a budget deficit equivalent to 2.8% of gross domestic product in 2013. Still, the prime minister warned that government debt is still rising and is currently at 100% of GDP.

Turning to the closure of Ford Motor Co.’s (F) plant in Genk, Mr. di Rupo said it would cost the region around 10,000 jobs, and that Ford’s management had been encouraging about the factory’s future until recently.

“The decision, which the company is attributing to the difficult economic situation, leaves a bitter aftertaste,” he said. “The same management, a month ago, denied rumours that the plant was closing and gave the workers hope about building new models there.”

Ford has started talks with labor unions over closing its Belgian plant in Genk by the end of 2014, as part of its efforts to streamline costs, cut capacity and turn around its loss-making European operation.

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Brussels Belgium

Welcome to Brussels Belgium.

Brussels city is quickly becoming a trendy spot for weekend getaways and holidays. Apart from its famous chocolates and beers there are many attractions that most visitors cannot begin to imagine. It is a centre of European culture, officially nicknamed ‘the European Village’, with almost 90 museums, beautiful parks, fascinating walks, trendy restaurants and bars.

Brussels quick facts:
Population: Approx. 1 million
Time zone: GMT +1 (Summer: GMT +2)
International code: +32
Country: Belgium
Languages spoken: French (official bilingual: French and Dutch)

Brussels is the perfect city for holidays with family and friends, or even with colleagues as a team-building event. There is a lot to learn about the history of the city, the architecture, the Belgian obsession with comic strips, and the art of chocolate and beer.

Getting to Brussels is quite easy; Brussels airport and Charleroi airport both welcome cheap flights; there are high-speed trains from London, Paris and Amsterdam, an intercity train network that can bring you from all over Europe; and you can even get here by ferry!

Brussels travel is cheap compared to London and Paris, with a touch of charm and elegance. Hotel accommodation includes luxury hotels, star-rated hotels, hostels and apartments for rent. Hotels can be booked online before you arrive at very reasonable prices.

In the city, public transport is easy to use; a great tip is to find the nearest metro stops on a Brussels map before you book accommodation. This way, you can easily reach the city centre and main tourist attractions. Hop-on hop-off buses are also available and travel passes are included with a museum pass (called the Brussels Card).

Before travelling, check the Brussels weather forecast; bring a fold up umbrella and a good pair of walking shoes!

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The New Kingdom

With the rise of Napoleon, French rule over Belgium became more constructive, including the revitalization of industry and (with the opening of the Scheldt) the partial recovery of Antwerp. With Napoleon’s fall, the great Allied powers decreed that Belgium would become a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, ruled by the pro-Dutch William of Orange. By 1830 the Belgians’ patience had run out. Revolution erupted in Brussels and quickly spread across the country. William made a brief effort to regain control, but within a few months he withdrew. On 20 January, 1831, after centuries of external rule, Belgium was recognized as an independent nation.

The Belgians chose Leopold of Saxe-Coburg to be their first King, under a constitution that significantly limited the power of the monarchy.

Under Leopold I and then his son Leopold II, Belgium flourished both economically and culturally.

Leopold II was succeeded in 1909 by Albert I, his nephew. Albert’s reign was dominated by World War I, during which most of the country fell under extremely harsh German occupation despite determined resistance. The Belgian army survived the invasion, and it played a central role in retaking the country at the end of the war. Albert lived until 1934, when he died in a tragic climbing accident. His wife Elisabeth is remembered as a great patron of the arts. Together with Eugene Ysaye, she founded the world-renowned Queen Elisabeth Contest, Belgium’s foremost musical competition.

Albert was succeeded by his son Leopold III, who like his father was soon confronted by war. In 1940, Germany invaded Belgium and Holland. As the blitzkrieg swept across the country, the Belgian government evacuated to London. Leopold, however, surrendered to the German forces when the Belgian lines at Kortrijk were broken. The territories of Eupen, Malmedy and St. Vith were annexed to the German Reich and the rest of Belgium occupied. Leopold was held prisoner in the palace of Laeken before being taken to Germany. When the Allied Forces liberated Belgium at the end of 1944, popular feeling against Leopold was substantial, and his brother Prince Charles assumed regency.

Leopold III returned to Belgium in 1950, but popular opposition to his rule remained substantial. In 1951, he abdicated in favor of his son Baudouin.
In the post-war period, Brussels has gradually taken on its role as the ‘capital’ of Europe. It is the headquarters of the European Community and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as well as gaining a reputation as the foremost European center of international business. In 1957, Belgium formed, with the Netherlands and Luxembourg, the Benelux Union.

Perhaps the most significant of the postwar developments has been the increasing local autonomy of various regions of the country. In 1977 the country was divided into three administrative regions: Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels. In 1980, the Belgian constitution was changed to recognize this separation, shifting the structure of the nation to a federation. In 1995, the provinces of Flemish Brabant and Walloon Brabant were created from the old province of Brabant, leaving Belgium with a total of 10 provinces.

When King Baudouin died in 1993, his brother Albert II succeeded to the throne. Albert II is married to Paola Ruffo di Calabria. The Royal couple has three children, Prince Philip (the official heir to the throne), Princess Astrid (who is married to Archduke Lorenz of Austria), and Prince Laurent.

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Battleground

Over the next century, France emerged as the most powerful state in Europe. Under the rule of Louis XIV (1659-1715), the French made sustained efforts to extend their control over the Spanish Netherlands. Louis’ ambitions were feared not only by the Spanish, but also by the Dutch, who had no desire to see powerful France extend its borders to their own. England also opposed French expansion, especially after William III, ruler of the Dutch, accepted the English throne.

As a result, present-day Belgium was for much of the century a battleground between Louis XIV and the shifting alliances of his opponents.

These struggles reached their climax during the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1713), prompted by the death of the childless King Charles II of Spain. Before his death, Charles had named as his successor Philip of Anjou, who also happened to be Louis’ grandson. As one might expect, Louis informed his young relative that it would be best for all concerned if Philip would immediately cede the Spanish Netherlands to France. It was an offer that Philip could not refuse, but also one that no one else in Europe could accept. For the next decade France attempted repeatedly to establish its rule, while Dutch, English, and Austrian armies consistently rejected each attempt. By 1713, Louis had had enough, and with the Treaty of Utrecht France ceded its claims over the Spanish Netherlands to the Habsburg rulers of Austria.

In fact, the region continued to enjoy virtual independence, paying as little attention to the Habsburg claims as it had paid to the claims of the weakened Spanish during the previous century. By the end of the 18th century Belgium was ready to assert its own identity. With the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, the country rose up in revolt against the Austrians, and in 1790 independence was declared in the form of the United States of Belgium. However, the leaders of the new country were deeply divided amongst themselves, and the Austrians rapidly re-established control. Austria, however, soon found itself at war with the French Republic, and by 1795 the successful French had “liberated” Belgium. Although the French instituted far-reaching reforms that later served as the foundations for the modern Belgian government, they were in fact far more inclined to see Belgium as a source of revenue and troops. Churches were seized and despoiled, massive conscription was introduced, and popular protest was crushed with a ruthlessness reminiscent of the Spanish occupation.

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Burgundian Period

Under Philip the Good (ruled 1419-1467), the Burgundian empire in Belgium expanded and began to flourish. Philip gained control of the southeastern areas, including Brussels, Namur, and Liege. He suppressed the independence of the cities, brought them under central rule from Brussels, and consolidated the region’s economy. Philip’s reign brought new prosperity and, with it, a great era of cultural development.

Painting especially reached new highs in the work of Robert Campin, the brothers van Eyck, and Rogier van der Weyden. After Philip’s death, his rule over present-day Belgium passed first to Charles V.

In the 1490s, as Bruges’ waterways to the sea gradually silted up, trade shifted further north and Antwerp emerged as the pre-eminent commercial city in the region

The ascension of Philip II to the Spanish throne in 1555 brought on the next crisis in Belgium’s history, as King Philip’s strident Spanish Catholicism coincided tragically with the rise of Protestantism in northern Europe. In the Flemish cities especially, Protestantism was a deeply political movement, linked to the long tradition of resistance to aristocratic domination. Social unrest in the cities was met by Philip with harsh and rigid repression, including the introduction of a massive Spanish military presence in the north as well as the execution of thousands of Protestants. By 1565, a powerful League of Nobility, under the leadership of William of Orange and Count Egmont (governor of Flanders), had joined in the opposition to Spain. Philip responded by sending in the notorious Duke of Alva at the head of an army of 10,000 troops.

Alva outlawed William, executed Egmont and other leading nobles in Brussels’ Grand’Place, and began terrorizing the country. Popular opposition exploded, particularly in the north, and within a few years Alva found himself powerless to exercise control over any but the southern cities, which had remained much closer to the Catholic church.

By 1576, William’s power in the north was virtually unchallenged, and he came to terms with the Spanish. The United Provinces, as the northern regions came to be known, struggled for the next seventy-five years to maintain their independence. The Catholic regions to the south remained faithful to Spain, becoming known as the Spanish Netherlands. In 1648, with the Treaty of Munster, the much-weakened Spanish not only recognized the independence of the United Provinces, but also agreed to close the Scheldt to navigation. As a result, Antwerp and Ghent, like Bruges before them, lost their predominance as the region’s centers of trade. For the next several centuries, the Dutch port of Amsterdam would play that role.

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Medieval Belgium

This division was soon to have great consequences for the development of Belgium’s nascent cities. In the northwestern part of Belgium, which nominally belonged to the young kingdom of France, there arose the powerful Counts of Flanders. The first of these was Baldwin Iron Arm, who amply demonstrated his independence from the French by carrying off and marrying one of the daughters of Charles the Bold. Baldwin also began the process of creating fortified towns in Flanders in order to curtail the depredations of the Norsemen. The first of these was Ghent, and the process was continued by Baldwin’s heir (Baldwin II) with the fortification of Bruges and Ypres. The southeastern part of today’s Belgium eventually became part of the Duchy of Lower Lotharingia or Lorraine, under the German kings.

In 977, Charles, Duke of Lorraine, built the fortress on the Senne River that was the foundation of Brussels. For the most part, however, the southeastern portion of today’s Belgium became split into a number of minor spheres of power, one of which was the prince-bishoprie of Liege.

At the outset of the new millennium, Belgium consisted of the cities of Flanders, unified under their strong Counts, and the less unified cities to the south and east of the Scheldt. As the Norse raids fell off and Europe’s major kingdoms gradually stabilized, trade began to grow by leaps and bounds. For Flanders in particular, this was the beginning of a golden age. By importing wool from England and weaving it into fine cloth for sale on the continent, the Flemish cities became exceedingly wealthy, populous, and powerful. By 1300, Ghent, Bruges, and Ypres, in particular, had gained virtual autonomy from aristocratic rule, developing the proud civic culture that still distinguishes them today.

Needless to say, this situation did not please the aristocracy, who itched to regain control over such attractive sources of wealth and power. The Counts of Flanders wanted to regain their local authority, and France very much wanted to reassert its claims to Flanders. In 1302, the cities successfully rejected such claims, utterly defeating the French nobility at the Battle of the Golden Spurs. But the aristocracy persisted, and its unity eventually proved stronger than that of the cities, where local rivalries complicated unified resistance. By 1329, the independence of the cities had been broken, and Flanders once again came under the control of France.

England, as the supplier of raw wool to the cloth trade, was more than a little displeased by this outcome. It stopped sending wool, and began a long attempt to break French power, both in Flanders and in France itself. For almost a century, the French and English clashed repeatedly in the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453), and in Flanders the struggle coincided with repeated attempts by the cities to regain their autonomy. The struggles finally ended when Philip the Bold of Burgundy, who had benefited from Burgundy’s long alliance with the English against the French, became the ruler of Flanders in 1384.

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Belgium history

The Ancient Celts

Beginning in 57 BC, Julius Caesar extended the power of Rome into the region of Europe that is now Belgium. The people he encountered there were the Belgae, one of the various Celtic tribes of early Gaul, and the Romans dubbed their new province Gallia Belgica. In the fourth century AD, with Rome in decline, control of Gaul was ceded to the Franks, a Germanic tribe that the weakened empire employed as mercenaries. As the Franks flourished, they decided to dispense with their Roman employers. By 431, they had established an independent dynasty, the Merovingian, with its capital at Tournai. Soon after, under Clovis I, the Merovingians succeeded in pummeling the last of the Romans in Gaul. They held large parts of present day France and Belgium as well as southwestern Germany. Clovis also adopted Christianity, thus gaining the support of the Church.

After Clovis’ death the Merovingian kingdom began to fragment, and the Frankish lands did not come together under single rule again until the reign of Pepin III (the Short) in 751. Pepin deposed the last of the Merovingians and founded the Carolingian dynasty, which is named after his son Charlemagne.

Charlemagne succeeded his father in 768 and ruled for almost a half century, creating during that time an empire that covered nearly all of continental Europe, with the exception of Spain and Scandinavia. In 800, Pope Leo III crowned him Emperor of the West. Although Charlemagne spent much of his reign conquering and subduing various parts of Europe, he also did much to foster commerce and the arts. The beginnings of organized trade along Belgium’s rivers was one result of his reign, as was the preservation of classical learning and the arts.

On Charlemagne’s death, his empire was divided, and familial feuding led finally to the Treaty of Verdun in 843. Under the terms of the treaty, three of Charlemagne’s grandsons split the empire between them. West Francia, under Charles the Bold, formed the basis of France. The Middle Kingdom was given to Lothair, though it would soon fragment. East Francia, under Louis the German, became the basis of Germany. West Francia included the narrow strip of land north and west of the Scheldt river in today’s Belgium. The remainder of present-day Belgium was included first in the Middle Kingdom, under Lothair, but it gradually came under the sway of the German kings.

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Dating online

International dating online service – a modern and very convenient way to get new friends. It is convenient, especially that you can get acquainted without leaving home. Especially for those who like to get acquainted at home are dating online . This is a great opportunity to meet directly with many people across the globe. How is an dating online going? First you need to register on the site, which invites you to participate in the on-line-Rooms, in fact more you just need to move on the proposed links (all quite simple). During an on-line meeting each of the participants through the Internet with links to his companion. Users interact with each other with a dialog box, microphone or phone. It must be said that often these services are still paid. But you can get acquainted with anyone, anywhere in the world. World’’s global network – the Internet many considered not just a place where it is easy to get the information you need, as well as a place where you by yourself can share their views or those that you know or you can on-line dating in its second half. Someone to chat, someone looking for on-line friends or loved ones on various dating sites. Dating online is a place to meet and communicate different Internet users from around the world. On the opposite site you can easily find like-minded people, learn the latest developments, curiosities, finding companions together to do business or to provide the community their business ideas, as well as you can find a soul mate, you”re looking for a life in their city or country and does not could fiend. In dating online there are a very convenient tool for the acquisition of new and interesting acquaintances. Perhaps, you can find through them his real true friend and kindred spirit, and perhaps you are lucky and you will be introduced on the site with his Love. And then in the near future you will play a wedding, you will live happily, be acquired and long-awaited children cease to be unhappy and lonely in this great world full of misunderstanding, worries and that you have nothing.

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Russian mail order bride

The term “Russian mail order bride” refers to a Russian ladies who search for men in other countries and communicate with them via letters/e-mails. The main goal is marriage. Today it’’s very popular way for English speaking males to seek a Russian wife!\r\nOne of the reasons is that such an international marriages have lower divorce rate than marriage between people from the same country. Statistic says that divorce rate even better if husband older than his wife and has good income!Also it depends on country that bride comes from. The second reason is that Russian girls has reputation of the best wives in the world! phenomenon of a Russian bride consists of very simple things: femininity,beauty,extreme devotion to family and excellent hostess qualities. That`s why huge majority of singles from the west wishes to have Slavonic lady beside!\r\nNow the term “Russian mail order bride” is well known in all parts of the world!So everybody can try it.

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Belgium Dating

Belgium Dating marriage is an interesting and convenient way to find bride from other country on-line, nowadays there are lots of Russian marriage agencies you can easily use. Belgium Dating marriage could make our life more interesting and exciting, for someone, this is practically the only chance to find people with similar interests, share information, learn the latest news and what is the most important – to find beloved person and create happy loving family. On the advantages and convenience, Belgium Dating is written many books and articles. On-line relations, as well as real, need care and attention for the development. Here are some advices for rapid development of Belgium Dating marriage.\r\n1. You should find enough time. Does the person you are interested in contact you regularly? Do you contact her regularly? Ignoring on-line meetings can be regarded as neglect and resentment, so respect and value the time of each other. Maybe it’’s just a lack of interest, rather than time?\r\n2. Communication should bring pleasure to both of you. If one of you, for example, insists on a personal meeting too much, it may suspicious, so do not hurry. Give yourself enough time to know each other better and to feel confidence.\r\n3. Respect privacy. Do not distribute photos, postal address or e-mail, for example, which was sent to you confidentially.\r\n4. Create special moments together in the on-line and reality. When you are online, share cards, links, favorite sites, photos of pets, download music and videos, participate together in the forums. In reality – if you have exchanged postal addresses, send cards and small gifts (for example a key chain with the logo of your city). Take care of your relationship. Pour their attention and they bloom soon. In many different Belgium Dating sites is as hard to find a soul mate, as in the reality. But who says that is impossible? In fact, all this is as simple as hard. How to choose the dating site or a category search, which will meet your interests? The best way to benefit from the experience of those people who are real professionals company and would like to share experiences with everybody who would wish. So you”re looking for soul mate and wife? Be prepared for the fact that this search will take you much longer than you though. Write as much information about yourself as you can, be frank and friendly, not to reject those who knock on to you – you might not immediately recognize the happiness! The most important thing is to believe in success and love life. Belgium Dating sites – only a tool to help find the love to everyone who believes that virtual reality can turn into a fairy-tale true story! Do not be afraid to seek happiness!

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Belgian women

If you are looking for a serious commitment on behalf of a woman, use the compatibility test to find your Belgium match. With the help of a detailed psychological report, you will be able to find ladies compatible with you and have a clue to the right way of developing your relations. Belgian women, put on thousands of there profiles, and many dating websites!\r\n\r\nSo,your chances to find Belgian women will be 100% One dating sites have only educated, quick and fine woman. Woman registered on our dating site actively answer letters; they are natural and very sincere as all of them definitely wish to find a real, kind and honest husband. Other dating sites are a usual subscription type. Men try to find Belgian women who are perfectly looking,who give their answers to letters, who are actual.\r\n\r\nAt the very beginning of your search for a Belgian women write more first letters and widen the circles of your acquaintances. Someone will answer, someone will refuse, and some one will write such a boring letter that makes your cheekbones ache. Someone will reply with only three sentences… Someone will be really interested, others can just play with your feelings.\r\n\r\nBut if you give up, then you will never meet that Belgian women only one, which is created only for you!!!

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