Assadollah Assadi, a 48-year-old Iranian diplomat wanted by Belgian authorities for spying and terrorism, apparently stayed at a hotel in Meppel, Drente without any problems.
According to books in the hands of Flemish broadcaster VRT, Assadi stayed at Hotel de Poort, across the street from the Meppel train station. Hotel owner Henk van Duinen has not been able to find any record of the stay from five years ago. The Dutch authorities knew nothing of Assadi’s visit to Meppel either.
Assadi was arrested in Germany, and is facing a 20-year sentence. He’s been held in a Belgian prison awaiting the verdict in his trial next Thursday. It has recently emerged that while in custody he was visited by his superiors from Tehran. Apparently, he also gave other spies and terrorists instructions.
The Iranian frequented public spaces in many smaller European cities such as Meppel where he made appointments at tourist spots. The data reveal a predilection for meetings outside castles and fortresses. The only notable person I know from Meppel is my bookkeeper.
Bart Cuypers’ beer shop Bierparadijs (‘Beer Paradise’) is technically in Belgium, but only accessible from exit A16, leading to an industrial area that borders the Netherlands. Due to Covid-19, Belgium, like many other European countries, is policing its border, in this case some 100 metres from the beer shop.
Cuypers doesn’t currently have any customers, and like many other businesses he’s getting some government support to keep up the place and its employees until he’s able to operate more normally. Right now everybody wants beer but there’s no decent way to get to it.
The Dutch could get to his shop as long as they take another exit just before the border check, which is meant for people entering Belgium. However, the Dutch cannot go to Belgium without a valid reason, and jokes aside, stocking up on beer is not a valid reason. The Dutch are 98% of Cuypers’ clients, as many beers are 25% cheaper in Belgium than in the Dutch supermarkets.
Definitely classified as a ‘weird flight’ in the best case and possibly ‘useless flight’ for other reasons, Qatar Airways will be scrapping a nine-minute cargo flight from Maastricht, Limburg to Liège, Belgium.
The entire flight is 38 kilometres, carried out by a Boeing 777 aircraft. It caught the eye of Belgian politicians who used this as an example to express their concerns about the environment. In the Netherlands, stopping flights of less than 100 kilometres is also being discussed, and even on Twitter, folks are saying that anything trips of less than 750 kilometres can be done by train rather than by plane when it comes to people moving around, not cargo.
The flight is a charter flight, ordered by one company who wants their cargo delivered directly to Liège rather than having to pick it up in Maastricht.
In the Belgian town of Adinkerke, a Flemish village close to the French border, 30 men and women did their best to imitate the scream of a seagull at a European Seagull Screaming Championship. We say men and women because there were two winners, one for the men and one for the women: a Belgian woman from Hasselt won her gold and the gold for the men’s was won by a Dutchman from Limburg.
Last year, 31 people participated in the Belgian Championship, and this year, it was time for a European version. The jury said that the level was ‘quite high’ and that part of the goal was to show appreciation for the seagull. I have friends on social media who cannot get enough of posting stories about seagull ripping food like fries out of people’s hand, but to each their own.
Our Limburger winner explains that he gives sport lessons outdoors and hears seagulls a lot, and was always impressed by the sound they make. He heard about the championship through friends and thought it would be fun to join in. “It was totally worth the 2.5 hour drive”, he added.
The whale shown above was made from old plastic and is called ‘Skyscraper (The Bruges Whale)’, named after the summer art and architecture festival at which it was exhibited last summer in Bruges, Belgium. A professor from Utrecht University liked the whale so much, she was committed to getting it installed in Utrecht, and it was recently unveiled. It can be found in the Catharijnesingel.
The whale was created by StudioKCA of New York City, run by Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang. The creators explain that is it a baby whale 12 metres high made from five tonnes of plastic, including a 1970s drum kit for some reason. Klimoski said that if anybody thinks this is a lot of plastic, imagine what’s floating around in the ocean. A lot of the whale’s plastic is from Hawaii where there’s a lot of plastic soup to be found. The rest of the plastic was fished out of rivers in New York state.
Why didn’t they use plastic from the North Sea to build an artwork in Bruges? Simply because they work in the US and that made more sense. Had they built the whale in Belgium, then they would have used plastic from the North Sea for sure. Although the plastic was found in the US, much of it comes from the European continent (namely Russia) and China, which gives people an idea how far plastic travels in the ocean.
The Flemish government used a picture of Amsterdam for a publication on figures for 2017, the original link of which has been pulled for now because they’ve made themselves a laughing stock for the time being.
The coordinator of the official brochure claimed they had no idea it was a picture of Amsterdam. “We chose the picture because it’s a dynamic image that also radiates diversity”, which is a cringeworthy nod to the fun non-white guy on the bike in the foreground whose friends have been tagging him on Facebook like crazy by the way. I mean he’s the ‘diversity’ that’s being pointed out, right? Hand offs, he’s ‘our’ diversity Flanders, get your own.
The street is Runstraat, a fun shopping street downtown Amsterdam part of the ‘negen straatjes’ or the nine little streets.
Hulst, a village in the east of Zeelandic Flanders, commonly referred to as “the most Flemish city in the country”, is being invaded today by protesting Belgians from Antwerp who are upset at being overcharged for medication.
A Flemish doctor who mainly has poorer clients bussed some 400 Belgians to buy drugs such as tamsulosin and omeprazole. And the pharmacies in Hulst is used to these ‘tourists’, having hired extra personnel to deal with the Belgian visit, but also criticising the Belgian government for serving its people poorly.
To give you an idea, a packet of paracetamol is 6 euro (!) in Belgium and about a euro in the Netherlands. Then there’s antipsychotic drugs that cost 152 euro (!) in Belgium, while they cost 11 euro in the Netherlands. That’s insane.
Why are the prices so different? While the Dutch pay about 100 euro a month for basic health insurance (part of which is paid for by the government for poorer people), the Belgians pay 90 a year and get nailed when they have to buy medicine. Ineffective lobbying on the part of the Belgian government when it comes to bargaining with pharmaceutical companies is very much to blame as well.
Why did the Belgians visit this week? Because the Belgian government increase the statutory personal contribution on May 1.
Govert Sweep is an 18-year-old adventurous Dutch guy who enjoys filming and adventure. In the video below, Sweep and his friend Seekrz illegally visit and film a tunnel full of old buses, cars and what not, abandoned under the city of Liège.
The story goes that in the early 1970s Liège was supposed to get a subway system. Huge tunnels worth billions were dug and the subway never happened. Since then the tunnel has been stocked full of old vehicles and you can only imagine what happens down there. Have a video look at what it looked like back in the 1980s on French Belgian telly.
Sweep’s video is in Dutch, but you can always use closed captions. At 2:40 they almost get caught by the police breaking in and at 3:35 they finally get into the tunnel. The images say it all and yes, it’s proper creepy.
(Link: limburger.nl, Screenshot of the YouTube video by Govert Sweep)
A Belgian man from Turnhout, Jan Starckx, bought a portrait of a young girl in a red dress for 450 euro, which has turned out to be an original Willem de Kooning (shown here), a Dutch-American painter originally from Rotterdam.
Authenticated by experts on the BBC television show ‘Fake or Fortune’, the painting has been valued at between 55,000 and 100,000 euro. Starckx intends to exhibit the work first in Turnhout and then in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek in Brussels where it was painted. In April the work will be brought together with a similar work, ‘Portrait of Renée’ at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware, USA.
“I thought it was a great painting and I was intrigued by the signature that misses the final ‘g’: ‘Wim Koonin’ it says”, explained Starckx.
Kresse’s book, called De Grote Otter (The Great Otter) and believed to have been published in the 1940s, is the only known complete first edition copy—another copy exists, but lacks a cover. Exactly how many copies Kresse or his publisher printed is unknown. A second edition from 1953 had a print run of 2,500 copies.
Later last month Catawiki sold a textless Tintin album for 40,000 euro. The auction house claims that this makes it one of the most expensive comic books ever sold at an auction—a statement that gives blogger and comics collector Popokabaka a fresh opportunity to warn his readers for the apparently stormy relationship the auction house has with the truth. Several copies of Tintin alone, the blogger claims, have sold in the past five years for considerably more than that.