03-06-13

May Day Parade, Gorki Street, Moskow, 1961

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Photograph from the collection of Dr. Anthony Terrana

William Klein

May Day Parade, Gorki Street, Moskow, 1961

http://www.phillips.com/detail/WILLIAM-KLEIN/NY040113/30

02-06-13

Brussels, Bruxelles, Brussel: explosion, explosie

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Explosion in Brussels, 7 Injured

June 1st, 2013

An explosion of unknown origin in a dwelling quarter has left at least seven people injured in Brussels, Belgian TV reports. The cause of the explosion is being investigated.

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Explosion à Bruxelles: le bâtiment a été détruit

1 juin 2013

Une explosion a eu lieu dans un bâtiment du Boulevard Anspach à Bruxelles. « On a entendu un grand bruit », témoigne un voisin, interrogé par RTL. « Les flammes sont arrivées ensuite, petit à petit, c’était vraiment très impressionnant. On a vu les voisins du dessus sortir sur leur corniche pour échapper aux flammes avant que la police ne leur demande de rentrer. Mais ils sont ensuite ressortis parce que, selon eux, il y avait le feu dans l’escalier. On voyait la panique sur leur visage, c’était vraiment très impressionnant. »

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Explosie op Anspachlaan veroorzaakt door sigaret

1 juni, 2013

De explosie en de brand in een gebouw op de Brusselse Anspachlaan hebben zaterdag negen gewonden gemaakt, aldus de politie. De brandweer sprak eerder over zeven gewonden. Drie van hen zijn er erg aan toe. Dat heeft brandweerwoordvoerder Pierre Meys gemeld. De bovenste verdiepingen van het gebouw werden namiddag afgebroken. Volgens vtm is de explosie veroorzaakt door de combinatie van een gaslek met een sigaret.

'Justice' in Wartime and Revolutions...

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"Justice in Wartime and Revolutions : Europe, 1795-1950"

War and revolutions generate transformations of judicial institutions and practices, and bring about shifts in the occupation of positions within different sections of the judicial system, which then often undergoes expansion. These transformations can either have lasting effects or only be temporary, in which case the former judicial system is restored. Such restoration can be complete, but often the phase of war and occupation will remain to have an impact, because certain changes are consolidated, because it is no longer possible to simply restore the previous situation, or because new elements are embedded into the former system.

http://www.uclouvain.be/en-370710.html

Brussels - Bruxelles - Stromae - Formidable

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Le formidable succès de Stromae

3.6.2013

La simplicité est parfois la meilleure des vertus commerciales. Intituler leur chanson Get Lucky ! était déjà un gage de bonheur dans les classements des ventes pour les Daft Punk et leur complice Pharrell Williams. Ils sont numéro 1 partout, y compris aux Etats-Unis, battent des records en centaines de milliers de disques et de téléchargements.

Pour sa part, le jeune Belge Stromae approche des trois millions de vidéos vues sur le Net de sa nouvelle chanson, Formidable. Le refrain traînant comme un slam de fin de nuit ("Formidable, fooormidable/Tu étais formidable, j'étais fort minable/Nous étions formidables/Formidable/Tu étais formidable, j'étais fort minable/Nous étions formidables") nous entêtera tout l'été, surtout par temps maussade, avant que l'album ne paraisse fin août pour la rentrée des classes.

Paul Van Haver (Stromae, maestro en verlan) est un grand type dégingandé, un métis belgo-rwandais portant éventuellement costard crème et nœud papillon assorti, né à Bruxelles il y a vingt-huit ans. En 2010, sa chanson Alors on danse fait le tour de la planète. C'est un constat amer de l'inconfortable condition européenne, livrée avec une lucidité à vous couper l'envie de passer le bac ("Qui dit étude dit travail,/Qui dit taf te dit les thunes,/Qui dit argent dit dépenses,/Qui dit crédit dit créance,/Qui dit dette te dit huissier, alors on danse").

Sur un air électro et dansant, déclamé par un être gracieux et souriant, on y retrouve la tristesse ambiante et la désespérance d'une jeunesse telle que décrite par le rappeur Orelsan – les deux compères viennent d'ailleurs d'enregistrer un duo très dance intitulé Papaoutai ("Tout le monde sait comment on fait les bébés/Mais personne sait comment on fait des papas"), un tube à venir à coup sûr, tant les géniteurs (ou "génies") ont tendance à disparaître des écrans radar.

Stromae a aussi intégré que la jeunesse européenne était portée sur la bouteille, que pour noyer ses brouillards ou fêter une séparation, le "binge drinking" est en vogue. Cette "Génération "biture express"" ("Le Monde Science&Médecine" du mercredi 29 mai) se sera reconnue dans la vidéo amateur filmée sur un iPhone que Stromae a laissée filtrer à la mi-mai : lui, ivre, débraillé, sauvé de justesse par des passantes de l'écrasement par un tram au cœur d'un petit matin pluvieux.

Le 24 mai, Stromae chante en direct sa nouvelle chanson, Formidable, en titubant et avec des accents exagérément copiés sur le Jacques Brel du Port d'Amsterdam, de Jeff, dans l'émission de Frédéric Taddei, "Ce soir ou jamais". Il fait sensation. On le soupçonne d'avoir forcé sur la bière et les substances. Pas du tout, trois jours plus tard, il donne la réponse par le clip.

Formidable est une histoire de rupture, un jeune homme s'est fait larguer, il n'a pas été bon, il s'est mis minable. Piano, instruments à vent, chœur masculin, batterie électronique, guitare sonnant comme les grincements des rails de tramway, le nouveau célibataire au cœur brisé est "un peu fort bourré". Amer, vouant tout mariage, toute descendance à l'insuccès, Stromae fait la guerre aux optimistes. Ce qui n'empêche pas de croire en soi, et de partir en promotion comme on part en guerre contre la poisse.

http://www.lemonde.fr/culture/article/2013/06/03/le-formidable-succes-de-stromae_3423010_3246.html

Paul Van Haver, better known as Stromae

Paul Van Haver, better known as Stromae is a Belgian singer-songwriter. He has distinguished himself in both hip hop and electronic music. He first became famous with the song "Alors on danse" which remained at number one for several weeks in numerous countries throughout Europe.

He was born in Brussels to a Rwandan father, whom he only got to see three times in his life, and a Belgian mother. At the age of eleven Paul Van Haver already showed an interest in music and attended 'l'Académie Musicale de Jette', where he studied music history and learned to play the drums, this was his first experience with music theory.

In 2000 he appeared as a rapper called Opsmaestro, though he later changed his stage name to Stromae (a syllablic inversion of "Maestro", a practice called verlan). It was with this name that Van Haver became successful.

At the age of 18, he founded a rap group called "Suspicion", along with rapper "J.E.D.I." in Eichof. They produced the song and music video "Faut que t'arrête le Rap...", though later, J.E.D.I. decided to leave the rap duo. In order to finance his private school education, Van Haver worked part-time in the hospitality industry, but his school performance wasn't up to standard. It was only later, when he registered at Institut national de radioélectricité et cinématographie, that he released his first album "Juste un cerveau, un flow, un fond et un mic...".

During his study at the film school of Brussels, Stromae decided in 2007 to concentrate fully on his musical career. This resulted in his debut-EP "Juste un cerveau, un flow, un fond et un mic…". In 2008 he signed a 4-year record deal with "Because Music" and "Kilomaître".

In 2009 Paul worked as a young trainee at the musical radio station NRJ in Brussels. Vincent Verbelen, Music Manager, was impressed by the talent of Stromae's first single 'Alors on danse' and decided to air it for the first time on NRJ. The response from listeners (including important personalities ranging from Anna Wintour, Jean-Claude Vandamme, to French president Nicolas Sarkozy) was one of extreme enthusiasm and Stromae's career was launched. Sales quickly rose to number one in Belgium in just a matter of weeks.

Vertigo Records, a label of Mercury Records France (Universal Music Group) signed him for a worldwide licensing deal soon after this.

By May 2010 the track Alors on danse had reached number one in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Germany, Austria, Turkey, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Romania and the Czech Republic.

On September 2, Stromae collaborated with Kanye West in a remix of his hit Alors on danse. In 2010, he was nominated for "Best Dutch and Belgian Act" at the MTV Europe Music Awards.

Of his music and its influences he has said : " I was in a little group doing rap music. I thought that rather than copying the French sound, I'd focus on a more American style but give it a European spin. And then I rediscovered 90s Eurodance. For a long time we were ashamed of that sound but in fact there's a lot to discover, it has its roots in everything from house to salsa. I also really admire Jacques Brel – he has been a huge influence on me – but also all sorts of other stuff, Cuban son, and the Congolese rumba which I heard as a child; that music rocked the whole of Africa." Also, Stromae insists he wanted to collaborate with up and coming rap group Swag+5 featuring rapper T-Jay. Finally, the collaboration did not take place but Stromae is a big fan of the American based group. The critic Molloy Woodcraft : " He combines 90s electro synths and beats with a laidback delivery to mesmeric effect".

He is one of the ten winners of the European Border Breakers Award 2011. On February 9, 2011, his debut album 'Cheese' (with hit single "Alors on danse") won the award for Best Dance Album at the Victoires de la Musique.

On May 23, during the recording of the French TV show Taratata, Stromae did a mashup of Alors on danse and Don't Stop the Party with the Black Eyed Peas. Stromae also announced he would perform for the first act of two concerts of the band on June 24 and 25, 2011 at Stade De France. Stromae had previously met will.i.am at the NRJ Music Awards in January. will.i.am told him that he liked "Alors on danse" and said he wanted to collaborate with Stromae.

In 2011, he received one nomination for "Best Belgian Act" at the MTV Europe Music Awards. The first single "Papaoutai" from his upcoming second album was digitally released on 13 May 2013.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stromae

http://youtu.be/S_xH7noaqTA 

31-05-13

U.S. Military Intelligence Service Language School

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On Nov. 1, 1941, the Army established the Fourth U.S. Army Intelligence School at the Presidio of San Francisco to teach the Japanese language to Japanese-American (Nisei) soldiers to use in a possible conflict with Japan. War broke out in December 1941, and in 1942 the school was moved to Minnesota and renamed the Military Intelligence Service Language School (MISLS). Almost all of the 6,000 wartime graduates of the MISLS were trained in Japanese.

In 1946 the MISLS was moved to the Presidio of Monterey. It added Russian, Chinese, Korean, Arabic and six other languages to its curriculum, and was renamed the Army Language School (ALS) in 1947. The size of the faculty and student classes and number of languages taught increased throughout the Cold War years.

Different service language schools were combined in 1963, when the ALS was re-designated the Defense Language Institute, West Coast Branch (DLIWC), with its headquarters in Washington, D.C. The Navy school became the Defense Language Institute East Coast Branch. The Air Force programs were phased out by 1970. The U.S. Air Force English Language School for foreign military personnel at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, became the Defense Language Institute English Language Center.

During the Vietnam conflict the need for Vietnamese language training was so great that a special branch, the Defense Language Institute Southwest Branch, was established at Biggs Air Force Base near El Paso, Texas. This branch was phased out in 1973, but not before DLI had exposed more than 20,000 servicemembers to the Vietnamese language.

When the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command was established in 1973, DLI was placed under its control. In 1974, the DLI headquarters and the East Coast Branch merged with the West Coast Branch at the Presidio of Monterey. In 1976, the English Language Center was separated from the rest of DLI, and the school at Monterey became the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC).

http://www.monterey.army.mil/About/history/DLIFLC_history.html

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DLIFLC.edu - Persian Farsi school
Program Overview
Language Schools

'Defense Language Institute' - Foreign Language Center
http://www.dliflc.edu/multilanguagesch.html
http://www.dliflc.edu/index.html
http://www.dliflc.edu/staffprofiles.aspx?id=18&t=0

MAYDA CRUZ, Spanish instructor, Associate Professor

'Three powerful forces, the Vatican, Pan American Airlines, and the U.S. State Department joined together in 1961 to save 14,000 children from being kidnapped by a Caribbean dictator. One of these children was MAYDA CRUZ, now a Spanish instructor at DLIFLC.
Soon after Fidel Castro seized control of Cuba, rumors spread that the new government was aligned with the communist government in Moscow, and children, ages five to 16, would be taken from their homes and indoctrinated in Moscow.
Operation Pedro Pan was a Catholic Charities program that was established to save these children from Marxist-indoctrination.
After diplomatic relations with Cuba broke in 1961, the U.S. State Department waived visa requirements for children coming from Cuba. This enabled the children to travel by commercial flights to Miami.
On the Cuban side of the water,Mr. James Baker, the headmaster of an American school in Havana, organized a Harriet Tubman-like underground railroad made up of Cubans and expatriates who helped the children escape from Cuba. Cruz, then eleven years old,was one of the 14,000 children who had to leave her home country. “I got on the flight and kids of every age were all crying. I was crying and everyone was nervous. This was a traumatic experience,” Cruz said.
Many families in Cuba believed that this would be a temporary solution and that they would also gain visas to join their children. But at this young age, Mayda only understood that her parents were sending her away. “Once you enter into customs, it is all glass. I could see my parents on the other side, and I was hysterical. I remember that I was crying so hard,” Cruz recounted.
“I always had the mind-frame, ‘I am going home, I am not worried about my parents coming here because I am going home.’ But as the years went by I started to embrace the new country and my thoughts began to adapt and change,” said Cruz.
On the other side of the 90-mile gap between Havana and Miami was the Catholic Charities representative which organized the children’s evacuation, provided a large school/foster care infrastructure, and offered the opportunity for the children to live free lives.
“There was an older lady at the airport in her 50s or 60s,” Cruz recalled. “She had a sign that said ‘Catholic Charities’ and she took us to our new home - little houses designed for 24 girls and a foster couple who took care of us,” Cruz said.
With only one phone call allowed to parents per week, not only was physical communication limited, but so was emotional communication. “Your parents were not telling you that they are not coming. Every conversation was like a little code, telling us about the situation in Cuba,” she said.
Cruz, did not see her parents again until she was a university graduate and a married woman. “Seeing my mom was moving, but at the same time I had grown independent and was not used to the Cuban way of life,” said Cruz.
Eventually Cruz found her way to DLIFLC. “I met a Soldier and married him,” she said. When her husband was stationed at Fort Ord, Cruz was able to find work at DLIFLC. “In 1991, I started working at DLI. I have been here for the past 19 years,” Cruz said.
The Undergraduate Persian Farsi school teaches language by employing highly educated native speakers as instructors.'

30-05-13

Latest News Syria: Bilderberg Conference

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Global Research, June 2, 2012

The presence of Syrian National Transitional Council head Bassma Kodmani at the 2012 Bilderberg conference clearly indicates that power brokers at the elite confab will be discussing the effort to topple President Bashar Al-Assad and install a NATO-friendly administration in the violence-stricken country.

Kodmani is the Head of Foreign Affairs with the SNC, a coalition of Syrian opposition groups based in Istanbul, Turkey. While at the Bilderberg meeting she will be in the company of the likes of former Secretary of State and accused war criminal Henry Kissinger, warhawk Richard Perle, and Thomas E. Donilon, National Security Advisor for the Obama White House.

Having overseen numerous wars during his tenure in the White House, Kissinger is a staunch advocate of so-called “humanitarian” interventions. Before last year’s toppling of Colonel Gaddafi, he advocated a U.S. ground invasion of Libya.

During last year’s Bilderberg conference in St. Moritz, Switzerland, members discussed expanding the war in Libya. Four months later, Gaddafi was killed and the country was under the control of NATO-backed rebels and the National Transitional Council of Libya.

Kodmani is a darling of the establishment, having written op-eds for the New York Times calling for the overthrow of Assad. In recent months her position has become increasingly hardline and pro-NATO intervention. In January she called for “greater militarization of local resistance or foreign intervention.” Kodmani has also called for Syria to form an alliance with Israel.

Hostility towards Syria from the international community has intensified in recent weeks, particularly after last weekend’s massacre in Houla which was blamed on Assad’s forces despite the fact that eyewitnesses in Houla said opposition rebels were responsible for the slaughter, which killed 108 people – mostly women and children.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Houla massacre will be used to build an international consensus for military intervention. “Every day that goes by makes the argument for it stronger,” she said while addressing Danish university students.

This followed U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice adopting a more hardline approach following a UN Security Council meeting. “Members of this Council and members of the international community are left with the option only of having to consider whether they are prepared to take actions outside of the Annan plan and the authority of this Council,” said Rice.

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has repeatedly stated that Congressional authorization for a military assault on Syria will not be sought by the Obama administration, which considers NATO and the UN to be the supreme authority.

In June last year, President Obama arrogantly expressed his hostility to the rule of law when he dismissed the need to get congressional authorization to commit the United States to a military intervention in Libya, churlishly dismissing criticism and remarking, “I don’t even have to get to the Constitutional question.”

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a regular fill-in host for The Alex Jones Show and Infowars Nightly News.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-regime-change-on-bilderberg-agenda/31210

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The next meeting of the Bilderberg group is to be held in England. The location is thought to be the Grove Hotel Watford from the 6th to the 9th of June.
These annual meetings are summits of the most wealthy, powerful and influential people in the world of politics, finance and business. The biggest mystery surrounding them is why the mainstream newspapers and broadcasters have chosen not to report on them since 1954. 

28-05-13

European Union's Arms trade: Oxfam awakens...

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Oxfam reaction to EU failure to extend arms embargo on Syria beyond August

28th May 2013

EU Foreign Ministers failed last night to extend the EU arms embargo on Syria as it stands. They

decided, however, not to lift it before August 1st and set a number of conditions.

In reaction, Oxfam’s Head of Arms Control, Anna Macdonald, said:

“Oxfam is disappointed that the EU will not extend its arms embargo on Syria as it stands. Ministers sent out mixed signals. What was needed was an unequivocal stance that the EU will do everything it can to stop the bloodshed and prevent a deadly arms race in Syria, which would have devastating humanitarian consequences.”

“We welcome the EU’s willingness to prioritise the pursuit of a political solution and its strong commitment for human rights and international humanitarian law. However, European governments should be using their influence to secure a halt to international arms transfers from all governments to any warring party in Syria.”

“This decision does not give the green light to any member states who want to supply arms to groups in Syria. As clearly laid out in the EU Common Position on Arms Transfers, any transfers must be subject to full risk assessment procedures against the risks of arms being used for violations of human rights and humanitarian law.”

Oxfam has been advocating to bring the arms trade under control for more than a decade and played a crucial role in the campaign to secure a robust Arms Trade Treaty. Under the new treaty – which was passed by majority vote at the UN in April this year and opens for signature next week on June 3 – arms transfers must not be authorised where there is a major risk the weapons will be used to commit violations of human rights or international humanitarian law. Both European countries and all other 156 states that voted in favour of this landmark treaty need to live up to its principles.

http://www.oxfam.org.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2013/05/reaction-to-lifting-eu-arms-embargo-on-syria

26-05-13

Monsanto: Agent Orange victims

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BA VI, VIETNAM: Handicapped orphans are fed by the medical staff at the Ba Vi orphanage. These young children represent the 3rd generation of Agent Orange victims more than 30 years after the war in Vietnam, where a battle is still being fought to help people suffering from the effects of the deadly chemical.

March Against Monsanto

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May 26, 2013

Why do we march?

  • Research studies have shown that Monsanto’s genetically-modified foods can lead to serious health conditions such as the development of cancer tumors, infertility and birth defects.
  • In the United States, the FDA, the agency tasked with ensuring food safety for the population, is steered by ex-Monsanto executives, and we feel that’s a questionable conflict of interests and explains the lack of government-led research on the long-term effects of GM products.
  • Recently, the U.S. Congress and president collectively passed the nicknamed “Monsanto Protection Act” that, among other things, bans courts from halting the sale of Monsanto’s genetically-modified seeds.
  • For too long, Monsanto has been the benefactor of corporate subsidies and political favoritism. Organic and small farmers suffer losses while Monsanto continues to forge its monopoly over the world’s food supply, including exclusive patenting rights over seeds and genetic makeup.
  • Monsanto's GM seeds are harmful to the environment; for example, scientists have indicated they have contributed to Colony Collapse Disorder among the world's bee population.
 
What are solutions we advocate?
  • Voting with your dollar by buying organic and boycotting Monsanto-owned companies that use GMOs in their products.
  • Labeling of GMOs so that consumers can make those informed decisions easier.
  • Repealing relevant provisions of the US's "Monsanto Protection Act."
  • Calling for further scientific research on the health effects of GMOs.
  • Holding Monsanto executives and Monsanto-supporting politicians accountable through direct communication, grassroots journalism, social media, etc.
  • Continuing to inform the public about Monsanto's secrets.
  • Taking to the streets to show the world and Monsanto that we won't take these injustices quietly.

We will not stand for cronyism. We will not stand for poison. That’s why we March Against Monsanto.

http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/

http://dutchamazingnewsblog.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/marc...

25-05-13

Internet giant Google

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Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo is feeling lucky. Belgium’s search for investment has paid off, with internet giant Google GOOG +3.14% expanding its Belgian data center, just outside Mons, where he was mayor until becoming PM. Google said it is investing €300 million in the expansion, and that the facility will be one of the most energy efficient data centers in the world, using around 50% less energy than typical data centers. “Google’s significant investment shows that Belgium is a key business destination, including for new technologies,” said Elio Di Rupo. “Although we’re going through difficult economic times, we keep attracting major investments from international companies.”

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On 3.14.2012, America’s Defense Department’s best-known geek announced that she was leaving the Pentagon for a job at Google…

American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium

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American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium

April 2013

Are US Companies Important to Belgium?

AmCham Belgium’s answer is a resounding YES, based on research that we carried out for our new report The Importance of US Companies in Belgium published on March 14. Our research revealed that the 50 largest US companies in Belgium employed 90,334 people and contributed €1.7 billion to government finances in taxes and social security in 2011, the last year for which official data are available.

The report includes an updated listing of the US Top 50 Companies in Belgium ranked by number of employees.  With 14,059 employees, ManpowerGroup tops our list for the second year in a row. Looking at the historical presence of US companies in Belgium, the top 10 companies in our list have been active in Belgium an average of 62 years. As Marcel Claes, Chief Executive of AmCham Belgium, said at the launch event, “These companies are here for the long term, and they want to be here for the long term.” What then is drawing them to Belgium?

People first

The Importance of US Companies in Belgium report was launched with a panel discussion between representatives of three of the US Top 50 companies. The panelists were quick to praise Belgium’s highly educated, multilingual and flexible workforce. This is important for Coca-Cola and Pfizer, both of which have major research centers in Belgium, and for Accenture whose ‘product’ is its people. Eric Lonbois of Accenture said, “Access to skills is very crucial.” He went further, equally stressing the mindset. Belgians tend to be very open towards other cultures, which is an important consideration for international companies.

Need for stability

The picture isn’t entirely rosy, however. The US Top 50 companies employed 2.3% fewer people in 2011 than in 2010. Asked for areas where Belgium can improve, all of the panelists called for stability. Peter Menu of Pfizer said it best: “I think that we need stability... We love to plan, in 1 year, in 5 years, in 10 years.” It’s difficult for companies that make big investments in Belgium to explain to their American headquarters that the rules have changed in the middle of the game.

Competitiveness was another concern. This includes not only the high cost of labor but also the tax regime. Jean Eylenbosch of Coca-Cola described the country as a sponge: “It’s small, it’s flat but it absorbs everything.” This has led Coca-Cola’s products to be 20-30% more expensive here than just across the border in France or Luxembourg.

Conclusion

Yes, US companies have made a significant and longstanding contribution to Belgium. The overall figures from the report are impressive to be certain – 90,334 employees, €1.7 billion – and this is not even the complete picture. Our research did not take into account two other important factors: indirect employment and employees’ fiscal contribution. In the pharmaceutical industry, for example, the multiplier has been placed at 2.5 – that is, for every employee hired by a pharma company, another 2.5 jobs on average are created outside of the company. Moreover, the US Top 50 companies paid out nearly €5 billion in wages and salaries, on which their employees must also pay taxes and social security. That’s up to €2.5 billion more for the Belgian state. And there are, of course, other elements which cannot be quantified, such as the high quality of jobs created by US companies.

Wrapping up the panel discussion, Scott Beardsley, President of AmCham Belgium, said, “If there was ever any doubt about it in people’s minds, US companies are still important in Belgium, but I would also say that Belgium is important for US companies.”AmCham Belgium will release its 2013 Priorities for a Prosperous Belgium with specific policy recommendations for the Belgian Government on May 29.

The panel discussion on March 14 was immediately preceded by AmCham Belgium’s Annual General Meeting. Eight new board members were formally elected. In addition to the six who have been serving in an advisory capacity since their nomination last September, the new board members include Joost Maes from Egon Zehnder and Roland Teixeira de Mattos from GE Europe.

The four board members whose term came to an end this year were also all re-elected: Ludo Deklerck of Bird & Bird LLP, Jean Eylenbosch of Coca-Cola Enterprises Belgium, John Largent of Magic Monkey and Eric Lonbois of Accenture.

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Building the Largest Free Trade Zone in the World

by Karel De Gucht, Trade Commissioner, European Commission

Two billion euros is the value of the goods and services that cross the Atlantic between the EU and the US everyday. Two trillion euros is slightly less than the value of the investment stocks that European and American firms hold in each other’s jurisdictions. The transatlantic relationship is the biggest commercial relationship in the world. 

But if trade already flows so abundantly, why negotiate a new EU-US trade agreement?

First, despite the success of our relationship, there is still a great deal of untapped potential. Though the tariffs we impose on imports are low 

– around 4% on average 

– the volume of our trade 

is enormous. As a result, every tariff we remove, even the lowest ones, will result in millions of euros of savings to companies, savings which can be reinvested for growth. For example, car parts sometimes cross the Atlantic more than once – as components on their first journey and then going back in the finished product – meaning they currently may pay tariffs twice.

But tariffs will only be a small piece of the deal. We are aiming for an even bigger package, which will include opening of markets for services and, very importantly, in public procurement. The most effort, however, will go into addressing those barriers that lie behind the customs border, such as differences in technical regulations, standards and certification requirements. These technical barriers to trade are estimated to have the same effect as if we had extra tariffs of between 10 and 20% per product.

As an example, rules in the US and the EU on car safety are similarly strict, as public safety is always our top priority. 

But even if they have the same objective – to make cars safe for the road – the technical rules to achieve that objective differ. A car producer who wants to sell his car both in Europe and in the United States has to get it safety checked twice. This costs time and money. If we aligned our standards, or accepted the principle that a car which is found to be safe on one side of the Atlantic is also safe enough on the other, we could make real savings both for the producers, the regulators and ultimately for the consumers. If we do it well, we would be able to maintain the same levels of health and safety, but boost growth and create jobs with less red tape.

Second, because we are the biggest trade relationship in the world, transatlantic standards could be embryos of future world standards. This would mean that our businesses would not have the extra cost of producing for a plethora of different standards around the world. And because the same would apply to companies in other parts of the world, an ambitious transatlantic agreement would in effect be a global public good.

So I believe that it’s certainly not exaggerated to say that such a ‘transatlantic economic alliance’ will be groundbreaking. In short, it moves beyond anything we have done before. It could boost our economies by between 0.5% and 1% of GDP and offer real returns to everybody – expected €545 per average household in Europe – for next to no investment. Truly, this is the cheapest stimulus package you can imagine. Given that both Europe and America are recovering from the biggest economic crisis in living memory, we cannot afford to ignore these gains now. And all EU Member States stand to gain. In Belgium, for example, as Europe’s second largest port, Antwerp will benefit from the overall increase in trading volumes. In addition, exports of key Belgian products like high-quality beer and food products can also be expected to be winners. 

Can we achieve it? Reaching an ambitious deal will not be easy. The more we seek to achieve, the more protected vested interests will seek to oppose us. And finally, we want to do this as quickly as we can – in two years, if possible – though speed will not trump quality. I am ready to go the extra mile to achieve it. ¦

Karel De Gucht has been European Commissioner for Trade since February 2010. Together with US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, he worked on a report recommending the launch of negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which was announced by US President Barack Obama, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy on February 13, 2013.

A lawyer by training and a Belgian liberal (Open-VLD), he has held numerous political offices at both national and European level. He was first elected as a Member of the European Parliament at the age of 26 and has more recently been both Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs (2004-2009) before first joining the European Commission as Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid (2009-2010).

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Photo: Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and Obama at the NATO Summit in Chicago, May 21, 2012 

The U.S. ranks as Belgium’s 5th principal trading partner; with Belgium ranked 18th for largest U.S. trading partner.  Bilateral trade was worth over $41 billion for the year 2010.

Security leaks leaves us open to terror

Britain.mi5-secrets-are-blown-notw-16-march-2008.jpg

We laughed heartily at MI5 losing the plans to its Thames House HQ and mocked them in general. “Not as bad as the police though,” said Dan, “because they’re all crooks mate.” I agreed and 18 March 2008 was turning into a happy day all round. It was good to talk to Dan again. His honesty about the corrupt System was refreshing.

We got down to the business of Paul Burrell and a chap on YouTube purporting to be him. I had been stringing the man along for information and to ascertain if he was genuinely Burrell. Whoever it was, he had a serious drink problem and  he visited my website http://www.news-alliance.com frequently from Florida, USA, where Burrell lived at the time.

The Sun had been after Burrell and finally nailed him with a covert camera in a New York Hotel room, admitting that he had lied for the Queen at the Diana Inquest in London. “Well, she’s the Queen,” said a drunk Burrell, unaware he was being recorded.

The Sun’s Emily Smith had telephoned me twice from New York and it seemed everyone wanted a piece of Burrell for lying to the Diana Inquest.

I agreed to work with Dan on flushing out the character behind the YouTube account and if it was no more than an impersonator, then expose that as the lesser option.

Dan complained on the telephone that there was considerable “white noise” on the line and indeed there was. He asked for a mobile number to call me back, which he did.

He asked if we could meet in London and I suggested the Garden Gate public house in Hampstead, just a few yards from where my uncle had lived until he died in March 2005. Digging into his Government Service, I had got to know Hampstead quite well.

We agreed on a meeting and all seemed well. Dan called again to say my website had been hacked offline again, and it had, and he opined, “you know who’s done that don’t you mate? MI5, because you’ve upset them with this Diana coverage on your website.”

It was entirely possible and MI5 has been in the hacking business for years… after all, that’s what spies do, gather information and disrupt the enemy. Coming from a so-called ‘subversive’ background, I was the ‘enemy of the State’ in question.

The next morning Dan called to say he couldn’t make the Hampstead meeting and that the Screws [NOTW] had lost interest in the story. I was concerned, having obtained my mobile phone number and some information, he was calling off.

This was not the same Dan Evans I knew at the Sunday Mirror. On the contrary, in just 3 years, he’d become a Murdoch creature, ruthless and cavalier.

I was not surprised that News International had corrupted yet another decent man but was deeply disappointed in Dan. He had betrayed himself, not me, he had sacrificed his integrity for ‘the story’.

The next thing, hey presto, Rob Jobson royal correspondent for the Screws had a story on Burrell and it became clear why I had been dropped. I telephoned Jobson to plug him about the story from Ron Cosgrove, based entirely on an affidavit, no real evidence to support his tales.

Naturally, I recorded every word Jobson said and we had a good laugh at the end about Burrell, Cosgrove and the whole sordid saga. I came out empty-handed as often happens in journalism but so what.

I resolved never to work with Dan again though. He had changed into a News Corp crook and I wanted nothing more to do with him. And rumours had been circulating for years about phone hacking and the ‘rogue reporter’ theory was beginning to take shape but not for long.

I knew Dan was heading for trouble and would soon be uncovered. The Guardian was breathing down the neck of News International but pulled its punches with a ‘Labour’ government in power.

It really wouldn’t do to allow the tidal wave of corruption to wash their Labour friends out of Whitehall; remember Operation Motorman and thousands of media crimes buried by New Labour…

I was tickled that now The Guardian was interested in press corruption, having refused to investigate it in 2005 when I spoke to the newsdesk… “not one for us,” they said and Sunday Times corruption remained concealed until I exposed it.

With Labour out of power in May 2010, the stage was set for the Hackgate firestorm but no one anticipated the terrifying ferocity of what was to come.

I kept a watching brief on Dan’s career and it was not long before he was outed for hacking the phones of Kelly Hoppen and Sienna Miller, amongst others that is…

He was suspended from the Screws and I decided to contact him, using the alternate email address he urged contacts to use. Why not use his NOTW email address instead of danmoves@hotmail.com

I had been exchanging emails with James Robinson at The Guardian about Evans to ascertain what was known. Robinson admitted he’d seen evidence to prove Evans was a ‘serial phone hacker’ and had targeted Sienna Miller and Kelly Hoppen.

The game was over for Dan, his career was dead as he’d known it and it was time to save himself. I owed him some advice in return for the help he’d given me in 2003.

I emailed him and advised him in strong terms to avoid prison and its harsh climate of revenge. I reminded him of the three principles: Backsides, corks and salvation.

I told him not to bite the bullet for Murdoch and the senior journos at the Screws and to come clean with the police about what had happened. I never used the term ‘supergrass’ but I did advise him to become a witness for the Crown and to betray his colleagues before they betrayed him. This was ‘night of the long knives’ episode two, after all.

“The pen is mightier than the sword.” Is it indeed?

Murdoch and the gang would not hesitate to throw junior employees to the wolves and why should Dan be sacrificed for the likes of Coulson, Brooks and Thurlbeck.

It’s now clear that my advice had some affect on Dan and I’m pleased it did because the journo-crooks on Fleet Street terrorised and destroyed the lives of thousands of victims for years, protected to the hilt by the corrupt police and the tame New Labour regime.

I openly admit to telling DC Richard Scott on Operation Weeting everything I knew about Dan Evans and gave him a voice recording and emails. This was not revenge, I was simply trying to engineer Dan into becoming a ‘grass’ or what the papers now call a ‘supergrass’.

Photo: MI5 secrets are blown – NOTW 16 March 2008

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