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#COVID-19 - Sassoli: Strasbourg declared red zone

EU Reporter Correspondent



European Parliament President David Sassoli (pictured) said: "The seat of the European Parliament is Strasbourg, this is laid down in the Treaties that we want to respect. We have done everything to resume the normal course of our plenary sessions in Strasbourg. However, the resurgence of the pandemic in many member states and the decisions taken by the French authorities to classify the entire Lower Rhine department as a red zone, obliges us to reconsider the move to Strasbourg.

"While we are very disappointed about this decision, we have to consider that the transfer of the administration of the European Parliament would entail quarantine for all staff upon their return to Brussels. We are going through a difficult time and I am grateful for all the co-operation, availability and expertise shown by the City of Strasbourg, the health authorities, and the government. The European Parliament's wish is to return to Strasbourg and we are confident that, in the face of a decline of the pandemic, this will be possible. The plenary session of the European Parliament from 14 to 17 September will take place in Brussels."


Police break up Brussels anti-lockdown party





Police fired water cannon and tear gas in a Brussels park on Saturday (1 May) to break up an anti-lockdown party of several hundred people designed to defy coronavirus social distancing rules. The crowd of mostly young people responded to a post on Facebook announcing the unauthorised party. It took place a month after police cleared 2,000 people who gathered in the same Bois de la Cambre park for la Boum (the party), an event that had begun as an April Fool's joke.

The follow-up Boum 2 event on 1 May, a traditional day for demonstrations, was held a week before the Belgian government allows cafe and bar terraces to open and lets groups of more than four people meet outside in a relaxation of COVID-19 rules.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo urged Belgians on Friday to stay united and not "fall into this trap". Facebook also took down the Boum 2 post on Thursday (29 April) after a request from Belgian prosecutors, who warned partygoers they risked being detained or fined.

A man is doused by a water cannon during clashes as people gather at the Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos park for a party called "La Boum 2" in defiance of Belgium's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) social distancing measures and restrictions, in Brussels, Belgium May 1, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman
A man is doused by a water cannon during clashes as people gather at the Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos park for a party called "La Boum 2" in defiance of Belgium's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) social distancing measures and restrictions, in Brussels, Belgium May 1, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman
A police officer detains a man during clashes as people gather at the Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos park for a party called "La Boum 2" in defiance of Belgium's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) social distancing measures and restrictions, in Brussels, Belgium May 1, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Police said several hundred people still attended.

Emile Breuillot, a 23-year-old dental student, said he had come to see people enjoy themselves and to defend their rights to gather.

After a calm start with groups chanting "freedom", the police announced on social media that attendees were not observing public safety measures and that they would intervene. Many people were not wearing masks, a requirement anywhere in public in the Belgian capital.

Hundreds of people also marched in central Brussels and through the eastern city of Liege demanding a relaxation of coronavirus measures.

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Beware of false refugees, the cult nature of the Eastern Lightning (The Church of Almighty God).

Guest contributor



I recently visited the Center for Information and Advice on Harmful Sectarian Organizations (CIAOSN) of the Ministry of Justice of the Belgian Federal Government and was received by a spokesperson for the Center who immediately specified that the Center was an independent Center set up under the Federal Public Service for Justice - writes Roland Delcourt

This spokesperson told me the CIAOSN was very interested in an 18-pages report they recently received on the Eastern Lightning (The Church of Almighty God) and explained the philosophy and goals of the Center .

The responsibility of the Center is to study the phenomenon of Belgian cult organizations and their connections on an international scale. Moreover, these studies will provide an information basis and reference suggestions for the work of the Belgian government, police, justice and immigration, as well as any public authority.

The spokesperson for the Center gave examples of the Center's intervention in related incidents. The CIAOSN pointed out that the information transmitted by some religions or religious organizations may cause certain believers to fail to comply with safety instructions and threaten public health safety. At present, the New Coronavirus Research Center has received received reports of several such incidents.

I was told that the report would serve to enlighten the Center about an unknown movement in Belgium. In the event that they receive a request for an opinion from any Belgian authority concerning one or more members of the Eastern Lightning (The Church of Almighty God), these files could serve as a basis for opening a study on the realities of the facts and sources so that the Center could give the competent authorities its opinion and recommendations.

The Center's decision will follow the practical definition of relevant laws. The 13 harmful standards listed in the report of the Congressional Investigation Committee (April 28, 1997) are:

1. Misleading or abusive recruiting methods.

2. Use mind manipulation.

3. Physical or mental (psychological) abuse of believers or members of their families.

4. Deprive believers or their families of medical care.

5. Acts of violence against believers, their families, others and even children, especially sexual violence.

6. Divide believers with their families, spouses, children, family members, and friends.

7. Abduct children or keep them away from their parents.

8. Deprive them of their freedom to separate from religion.

9. Disproportionate financial demands, fraud, embezzlement of funds and property harm the interests of believers.

10. Unjustly interfere with the work of believers.

11. Stigmatize a democratic society and completely break with it.

12. The desire to destroy society for the benefit of the organization.

13. Use illegal means to gain power.

If one or more of these points meet the required criteria, the Center will issue a negative opinion. According to the information from the report, the worship of the Eastern Lightning (The Church of Almighty God) seem to correspond to the very definition of a harmful cult.
If, after studying various elements, the Center should consider that this organization falls within the framework of harmful sects, the Center could be led to give an unfavourable opinion to the Immigration Office in the event that individuals presenting themselves as a member of the sect would request political or other asylum.

Cults are a familiar concept in our modern society, however, to clarifying the nature of cults and identifying them still poses a difficult problem. Different countries have different opinions on the definition of what a cult is and it is proving difficult to agreeing on a common consensus. Very often legislations only explain the meaning of cults within their respective scopes and the lack of standards make it even harder to apply legal restrictions on cults, especially contemporary ones.

Cults are a major public hazard to mankind, and also are a very serious social problem faced by governments around the world. Although cults are numerous and bizarre, their anti-science, anti-human, anti-society, and anti-government natures follow very similar patterns.

In Europe, an ever growing number of cult organizations are fabricating and spreading fallacies and heresies through various illegal means. The Church of Almighty God cult that came out of China is one of them. This cult has been making waves in China and European countries for more than 20 years!

Creating ideological chaos, extorting believers' money, seeking huge profits, infiltrating influential posts and governmental bodies, cults seriously threaten our social order and national security.

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Commission approves €75 million Belgian scheme to support companies restarting activities in Flemish Region affected by coronavirus outbreak

EU Reporter Correspondent



The European Commission has approved a €75 million Belgian scheme to support the costs of companies active in the Flemish Region restarting their activities affected by the severe restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak, at times causing a long period of closure. The scheme was approved under the state aid Temporary Framework. The scheme, called ‘Restart loan for undertakings with liquidity problems', will be administered by the Flemish Region and will be open to companies of all sizes and active in all sectors, except the financial one.  Under the scheme, the public support will take the form of loans. Eligible companies will receive up to two loans, at a subsidised interest rate of 1%. The Commission found that the Belgian scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the aid (i) will not exceed €1.8m per company and (ii) will be granted no later than 31 December 2021. The Commission therefore concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU State aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.62430 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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