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How to get married to a Thai national in Belgium – Part 1

Getting married to a Thai national (or any foreign national, for that matter) in Belgium isn’t a straight-forward process. Official sources contradict each other in tiny (but crucial) details, different cities (or even contacts) interpret requirements differently and some government officials can’t be bothered to assist properly. My goal is to write our experiences down, to help others maneuver these murky waters. Part 1 will teach you how to successfully jump the first hurdle: the wedding registration at City Hall in Belgium.

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Hipster Vilvoorde

My hometown is Vilvoorde, a city with about 43,000 inhabitants neighboring the Belgian capital of Brussels and with a checkered past. Vilvoorde thrived during the Industrial Revolution due to the proximity to Brussels and the excellent transport infrastructure. Being one of the largest industrial areas around Brussels, the city remained successful until the late nineties when subsequent economic crises started to have an adverse effect on the economy. As a result, Vilvoorde received a rather grey and negative image which is sometimes propagated to this day. Local commercial policy (or the lack thereof) hasn’t been able to stop increasing shop vacancy in the main shopping street, which only aggravated the reputation. Lately a trend has been rising in our city next to the river Zenne. One that might point towards the answer for both the local economy and the city as a whole, if policy makers choose to see and address it. Let me tell you about Hipster Vilvoorde.

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Belgium: when the Hippocratic Oath fails

When my Mom recently needed emergency surgery to save her eye, she was racketeered by her physician to upgrade to a more expensive single-person room. The time-sensitive procedure would not be carried out, if she refused. You see, in Belgium MD’s are allowed to charge an elevated fee when a patient is staying in a private room. My parents alerted the media, resulting in a small media storm. Mom’s story was a headline on national TV news and in newspapers De Morgen, Gazet van Antwerpen, HLN and Het Nieuwsblad. My question is: whatever happened to the Hippocratic Oath?

mama-demorgen

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Belgium: Paul Magnette has earned my respect

Minister President Paul Magnette of the Belgian region Wallonia is acting like a good housefather and I respect him for it. Under immense international pressure and with Europe staring him down, he is taking a stand and refusing to sign the CETA free-trade agreement between Europe and Canada. Why? The man did his homework and found the agreement to be vague when decision power of national courts is concerned, when governments are sued by foreign investors. Basically, he wants to ensure that multinationals, which increasing have more power than nations, can’t just have free blows at European countries and indicates that he needs more time to study the current draft. What any other leader should have done, quoi. Paul, we might be part of different and often opposing communities within the same nation, but I would consider giving you my vote, if I could. Stand your ground, man. No use in having regional votes, if regions aren’t allowed to say ‘no’.

http://www.politico.eu/article/meet-monsieur-paul-magnette-the-man-killing-ceta-deal-trade-agreement/

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Playlist: Zillion Classics

In 1997, a new venue was added to Antwerp’s nightlife scene. Zillion took the use of technology to new levels, added an element of showmanship to night time entertainment and became an overnight success. Legal troubles surfaced from the very beginning and would ultimately lead to its demise in 2002. With plenty of media attention, several plot lines, plenty of drama, suggested criminal activity, potential stock market manipulation and sexual intrigue, the story warrants its own article (*coming*) and has the potential for a blockbuster movie. However, Zillion also leaves a lasting legacy and a devoted following. This playlist contains tracks straight from its dance floor. For most people they are trance classics, but for regular visitors they will always be Zillion Classics. Complete track listing if you continue reading.

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Absurdist Belgium: ‘Balanced’ Flemish budget

The Flemish region of Belgium has just proudly announced that its budget for the coming year will be balanced. A commendable achievement in the current economic climate one might think. Well, kinda. To get their checks and balances in order, the Flemish government has had to keep one of the largest investments out of the books. The Oosterweel connection is a project that plans to complete the highway around the city of Antwerp, turning it into a completed ring road. The investment will require a yearly investment of about half a billion Euro for the years to come. It’s exclusion from the budget is justified by the fact that it will generate a return on in investment, once finished. We would hope so, but isn’t making projections for future income and expenses part of the budgeting exercise, M. Bourgeois? Budgeting is not a PR opportunity. Well it shouldn’t be, at least.

geertbourgeois-web

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Playlist: Belpop

This time, a playlist that doesn’t tell the story of a subculture but rather that of a geographical area: my home country of Belgium. This is a collection of records that have an international appeal, but have slipped into relative obscurity. It’s a trip starting in the clubs, moving past trip-hop, visiting rock venues and ending up in a tropical ska atmosphere. Isn’t Belgium wonderfully diverse? Full track listing if you continue reading.

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