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Friday, 04 June 2010
Keeping streets clean


In Brussels they seem to use the same technology as every other European city.

Posted by bigblue on 04/06/2010 at 08:30 AM
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Thursday, 03 June 2010
Cycling in Oxted


I have the idea that it could take off better, but that it would need improved cycle parking facilities (e.g. undercover lockers at the railway station, like they have in the Netherlands), a reduced speed limit and proper cycle paths (where appropriate - I am aware that there is controversy over segregated cycle paths and their safety).

Posted by bigblue on 03/06/2010 at 04:22 PM
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Four photos


Of cycling in Brussels. The photographs on the top right and bottom left concern Villo, the bike hire scheme in Brussels.

Posted by bigblue on 03/06/2010 at 09:43 AM
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Wednesday, 02 June 2010
A lovely day


I notice a festive, almost holiday, atmosphere on Master Park, Oxted, this afternoon as I cycled past.

Posted by bigblue on 02/06/2010 at 09:04 PM
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Human rights - refugees in Belgium


Yesterday I posted a photo showing a celebration of (children’s) rights in Belgium, so I thought it would be appropriate to mention today where Belgium is failing in this area. The European Socialwatch report states:

Since the end of the nineties, detention has been broadly used by Belgian authorities to prevent illegal entry or to implement orders of removal. Several categories of foreigners may be subject to detention: those who are turned back at (air)ports, apply for asylum in transit zones or are staying illegally in Belgium. Some asylum seekers also risk being locked up, namely, applicants that Belgium wants to transfer to another European country or whose application is considered ‘abusive’.

In 2007, 7,506 foreigners were detained in 5 detention centres, less than in previous years when the number rose above 8,000. This fall may be due to a rise in the average duration of detention: from 26.9 days in 2006 to 29.4 in 2007…

Detention of minors

Since the introduction of strict limitations on the detention of unaccompanied minors in 2007, the detention of families with children has changed drastically. In 2007, 188 families with 398 children were detained; in 2008, these figures dropped to 137 families with 270 children. The main reason for this was the launch in October 2008 of an alternative scheme run by the Federal Immigration Service. Under this scheme, families that Belgium intends to remove due to their irregular stay or their transfer to another ‘Dublin country’ are not detained in the first instance, but are placed in ‘return houses’ where they retain (conditional) freedom of movement. Such families are assigned a coach whose job is to motivate them to abide by the removal order and to facilitate their removal. It is too early to assess the operation of this new model, although NGOs fear that it may fail due to lack of trust between the family and the coach, because the coach is not independent and as the only option is ‘removal’. However, this scheme is a significant improvement on detention, which has a strong negative impact on the mental health of children. Unfortunately, families who apply for asylum at Brussels airport do not fall within the scheme and remain in detention.

There are a number of reports of demonstrations against the “closed detention” of migrants in Belgium, as the graffiti in the photograph above (”torch the detention centres), as well as this YouTube video shut down fortress europe: refugees in belgium show.  A couple of years ago there was the much-publicised occupation of cranes and hunger strikes by illegal immigrants in Belgium.

The Christian church in Belgium has been involved in supporting migrants and ministering to them, but I was interested to see that some so-called Christians objected to this in the Brussels Journal. One commenter to the article even quoted disapprovingly of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Murphy-O’Connor, who said:

In welcoming the stranger we should not distinguish between “legal” and “illegal” migrants.

Posted by bigblue on 02/06/2010 at 05:06 PM
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Sign of the times


There’s a growing market at one of my local supermarkets for cosmetics and toiletries in containers of 50ml, 75ml and 100ml.  According to the Heathrow Airport website:

Liquids – 100ml rule

Only limited quantities of liquids may be carried through airport security into the departure lounge. This includes bottled drinks, suntan lotion, fragrances, cosmetics and toiletries.

The following restrictions apply to all liquids, creams, gels, pastes and aerosols taken through security control:

  • Liquids may only be carried in containers holding 100ml or less.
  • They must be carried separately in a single bag which is:
    • Transparent and resealable
    • No larger than 20cm x 20cm (8in x 8in)
    • Able to close properly with all the items inside.
  • At security control, place the bag in the tray with your other items.
  • Liquids in containers over 100ml will not be permitted through security – please pack them in your hold baggage instead.

Am I the only person who doesn’t feel any more or less safe with this rule?  I would much rather the airports deployed technology or sniffer dogs to prevent dangerous liquids and objects being taken onto planes.

Posted by bigblue on 02/06/2010 at 03:48 PM
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Tuesday, 01 June 2010
Childrens’ Rights


Today is International Childrens’ Day. Children on other planets will have to wait until 20 November, which is Universal Childrens’ Day. I took the photograph above at the Evere Cultural Centre in Brussels, Belgium, recently.

Posted by bigblue on 01/06/2010 at 08:14 AM
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