Dying To Be Regularized: Migrants On Hunger Strike

Farida is 51 years old. She was born in Belgium. Her entire family has the Belgian nationality. Farida has a steady job. She cleans offices and public buildings, for €6-8 per hour. Her last application for a regularization of her administrative status got rejected and she has received a state-issued order to leave the territory.

Kiran fled a civil war in Nepal 16 years ago and applied for asylum in Belgium. While his asylum request was still pending, he got a job that paid €10 an hour. When his asylum claim got rejected, his wage fell to €2.5 an hour. His daughter, born in Belgium, is now five years old and speaks fluent Flemish, which she learned at school. The family submitted five applications to be regularized, they were all rejected.

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Waffles, Beer, And The Penalty We Pay For Tolerating Inequality

Belgium is spreading about as well as any nation on Earth, according to data the Swiss bank Credit Suisse details in its new Global Wealth Report 2018. No other major society currently sports a distribution of wealth much more equitable than Belgium’s. How do we know? The new Credit Suisse report serves up all the key numbers for computing who gets what in over 200 nations worldwide. But we do have to exercise our imaginations a bit to get the most out of the Credit Suisse data. We have to imagine, as a first step, a world with every nation divvying up its wealth on a totally equal basis. That, of course, isn’t happening anywhere. No nation shares its wealth completely.

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1,400 March In Protest At Trump Visit

Days before the planned arrival of US president Donald Trump in Brussels, some 1,400 people took part in a march on Saturday to tell him he is not welcome. Trump will be in town to attend a Nato summit. The last time Trump was in Brussels it was for the inauguration of the new Nato headquarters, when his visit was marked by the rough handling of the Macedonian prime minister, as well as his rebuke to fellow Nato members over their defence spending. Some 70 organisations took part in organising the march, representing human rights, feminist and peace movements. “We are opposed to the policies Trump is currently implementing, particularly his sexist, racist and anti-social policies,” one participant told the Flemish broadcaster VRT.

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Ghent’s Quick Rise As A Sustainable, Commons-Based Sharing City

By Mai Sutton for Shareable – A renewable energy cooperative, a community land trust, and a former church building publicly-controlled and used by nearby residents — these are just a few examples of about 500 urban commons projects that are thriving in the Flemish city of Ghent in Belgium. A new research report (in Dutch) shows that within the last 10 years, the city has seen a ten-fold increase in local commons initiatives. The report defines commons as any “shared resource, which is co-owned or co-governed by a community of users and stakeholders, under the rules and norms of that community.” With a population of less than 250,000, Ghent is sizably smaller than the other, more well-known Sharing Cities such as Seoul and Barcelona. But this report shows how it is quickly becoming a hub of some of the most innovative urban commons projects that exist today. The study was commissioned and financed by Ghent city officials who were keen to understand how they could support more commons-based initiatives in the future. It was conducted over a three-month period in the spring of 2017. The research for the report was led by the P2P Foundation’s Michel Bauwens, in collaboration with Yurek Onzia and Vasilis Niaros, and in partnership with Evi Swinnen and Timelab.

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Thousands Protest Austerity In Brussels

Tens of thousands demonstrated in the streets of Brussels Sunday to protest against austerity measures introduced by the new Belgian government. ​Officials estimated the crowds at 20,000, while march organizers claimed that up to 120,000 people participated in the rally, one day before Belgian labor unions called for a series of strikes. Marchers came from across the country, chanting slogans like, “Yes, there is an alternative to government savings.”

They also called for a fair tax system and a better distribution of government spending. The rally was organized by the social NGO “Hart boven Hard” (Heart Over Hard) and according to local press about 7,000 demonstrators are expected in Brussels Monday for the strikes, which are expected to disrupt public transportation.

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Belgium On General Strike Against Austerity

Belgium’s main public transport company, STIB, announced on Thursday that it would cease operations during the planned general strike in the country on Dec. 15.

STIB operates bus, underground and tram networks in the Belgian capital.

Its sister company De Lijn, which operates services in the northern Flanders region of the country, also said on Thursday that it would not run services during the strike.

The general strike is the cumulation of a series of regional strikes that have hit Belgium since November in response to the government’s economic policies.

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HSBC Accused Of Fraud, Money Laundering, Forming Criminal Org

A Belgian investigating judge has charged a Swiss private banking branch of HSBC with massive organized fiscal fraud, money laundering and forming a criminal organization to the benefit of over 1,000 wealthy clients that cost the Belgian authorities “hundreds of millions of euros.”

The prosecutor’s office said Monday the accusations against HSBC Private Bank NV/SA are based on its involvement over the years with “wealthy clients, specifically from the Antwerp diamond industry.” It said the justice ministry is also looking into possible money laundering. In August, HSBC Holdings PLC said it knew inquiries were ongoing and that the penalties “could be significant.” On Monday, it said it had been notified of the formal investigation by the Belgian judge.

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100,000 Workers Protest Belgian Labor Reform

One of Belgium’s biggest postwar labor demonstrations brought about 100,000 workers to the capital on Thursday to protest government free-market reforms and austerity measures that they claim undermine Belgium’s vaunted welfare state.

For two hours, the demonstrators peacefully marched down the main thoroughfares of central Brussels to protest government policies that will raise the pension age, contain wages and cut into public services. Violence marred the end of the march, with police firing tear gas and the water cannon to break up incidents. No casualties were immediately reported.

“They are hitting the workers, the unemployed. They are not looking for money where it is, I mean, people with a lot of money,” said Philippe Dubois, who came from the industrial rust belt of Liege.

The unexpectedly massive march opens a monthlong campaign by the trade unions against the business-friendly governing coalition and is to be capped with a nationwide strike on Dec. 15.

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