Live from Brussels

Musings from a bored analyst/project-manager.
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Thursday, March 25, 2004
Antwerp VISA Scandal, Continued

Heard on the radio today that only one member of the Antwerp city council will be sent to court over alleged fraud with city VISA-cards. This despite the fact that all of them resigned (and were re-appointed, can you imagine that?) when it turned out they liberally used these cards for gifts, clothing and fancy dinners. Apparently the justice system seems to think nothing really illegal happened, because there were no clear guidelines on how to use these cards. By now, the system of city credit cards has been abandoned, by the way, and replaced with the old system of bringing in receipts in order to use an expense account (which, for them, has the advantage of being much less traceable, but let's not read too much into it).

Only Chantal Pauwels from the Green party is being charged with fraud, because somehow the same dinner got charged to the city twice: once on her card and once as a regular expense. She claims it was an administrative error and that she is not to blame (so she also stays in her job, with the explicit OK from the mayor).

One might wonder if people who see nothing wrong with using city money for personal expenses are really qualified to run a city. One might also wonder what explanation they will come up with when the extreme right Flemish Block party whips their behinds in the next elections. I guess they will blame it on 'intolerance' or 'racism'. I blame it squarely on their own shortsighted corruption and lack of personal responsability.

Antwerp News Flash

A reader mailed me to say he had heard at 10.30 today from a friend in the Belgian police (Specian Intervention Squad) that a Kalashnikov and 40 kilograms of explosives had been found in a mosque in Antwerp this morning.

I don't know if this report is accurate or not, but my reader claimed he was 100% certain of his source. He also wondered when the media would pick up on the story (I just checked the Belga news agency wires, nothing yet).

More as I hear about it... (or maybe if)

Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Hidden Message

I have hidden my last message until further notice. It will come back in a few hours/days. More news later.

Monday, March 22, 2004
RIP Yassin

It seems those evil Israeli's again killed a nice, harmless spiritual leader of a movement of nice, harmless, oppressed people. At least if you believed Belgian state radio. They went on for minutes about how this old, handicapped man was just the spiritual leader of Hamas, how he was liked, nay worshipped by the Palestinians, and how dumb this new Israeli move was because it would ruin the peace-process. Not a word about what Hamas really was about: blowing up civilians on busses, shooting kids in their beds, murdering women and children...

Only at the end did they tack on a reference to Hamas terrorism: they said Yassin didn't seem to have a clear short-term strategy. 'Nobody really knew what the point of all these Hamas attacks really was was.' Actual quote, I'm not making this up.

All the while I kept thinking, will they react in the same way when the U.S. Air Force drops a couple of 2000 pound bombs on Osama Bin Laden? Will they headline: "Al Quaeda Spiritual Leader Murdered"? Will they go on and on about how he was worshipped by many Arabs? And how dumb Bush really was for ordering the strike? Because it will only cause more terror, in the long run?

The sad thing is, they probably will...