Belgium shows restored masterpiece but stolen panel rankles
A man views the panels of the Ghent Altarpiece, by Flemish painter Jan Van Eyck, at Saint Bavo Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium on Monday, March 22, 2021. The Saint Bavo Cathedral will open a new visitors center where the restored Ghent Altarpiece will be the focal point. Restorers didn't want to give the copy the same makeover as other panels that have been cleaned up so far. The extortionist even gave back a minor rear panel that had also disappeared that night, to prove his credentials. In any case, authorities now want to ensure that all the remaining panels are perfectly protected from theft and humidity.
New US sanctions target military conglomerates in Myanmar
(AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, Pool)The United States on Thursday imposed what it calls its most significant sanctions to date over the military coup in Myanmar, restricting American dealings with two giant Myanmar military holding companies that dominate much of that country's economy. Thursday's sanctions “target those who led the coup, the economic interests of the military, and the funding streams supporting the Burmese military’s brutal repression,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. The new measures generally bar any American dealings with the two military holding companies, which have sweeping business involvement in trades ranging from the sale of alcohol and cigarettes to agriculture, banking and mining. AdThe United Kingdom would be taking similar action against one of the holding companies, Blinken said. The Biden administration says it is targeting the military in sanctions and seeking to avoid worsening conditions for the country's civilians.
Pandemic holds few lessons for European chefs, mostly misery
A customer, right, waits to pick up an order at Sergio Herman's Le Pristine restaurant in Antwerp, Belgium, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. If that were the case for the high-end restaurant industry, the coronavirus pandemic should have offered ample opportunities for creativity and renewal. But this pandemic so far mainly has chefs just thinking of how to get through each day. A box from Le Pristine, without drinks but with a few supplements, can easily push past 100 euros (around $115) a head. Le Pristine is his latest project.
Virus makes for one of Europe’s loneliest WWI remembrances
It is the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world, for any war. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)YPRES – When a dawn fog lifted over countless World War I battlefields, cemeteries and monuments in Belgium and France Wednesday, the pandemic ensured that the remembrance of the millions killed in the 1914-1918 conflict was one of the loneliest ever. Under the Menin Gate in western Belgium's Ypres, at the heart of the blood-drenched Flanders Fields, usually thousands gather to pay tribute. The nearby Flanders Field American Cemetery and the Commonwealth Tyne Cot were all closed due to pandemic precautions. Several military figures wore blue masks decorated with blue cornflowers, France’s symbol of World War I. Macron wore a cornflower pin on his lapel and a black mask.
Artist gives life to Belgian boot-scrapers during pandemic
A miniature scene is set into a boot scraper outside a front door in Antwerp, Belgium, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Belgian artist Elke Lemmens is transforming disused boot scrapers in the port city of Antwerp into miniature scenes depicting what is important in the lives of the owners of the house. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)ANTWERP – Life can feel smaller, even tiny during the coronavirus pandemic as public health restrictions limit social contacts to a bare minimum. But Belgian artist Elke Lemmens has found a way to build connections during the ongoing crisis. “Soon, there will be a walking map so people can find these boot scraper scenes,” Lemmens said.
Books? Hairdressers? Europeans split on lockdown essentials
In times when a pandemic unleashes death and poverty, the concept of what is essential to keep society functioning in a lockdown is gripping Europe. That's why Germany is keeping car dealerships open this time, after their closure in the first, spring lockdown hurt the country's huge automobile industry. In the country that coined the term “bella figura” — the art of cutting a fine figure — hairdressers are deemed essential. “Across the border in Belgium, books were deemed essential. “So why order books at an international online giant when the corner bookstore can deliver same-day by bike?"
Belgian beach brawl fuels virus, political, climate tension
Police patrol the beach on horseback at the Belgian seaside resort of Blankenberge, Belgium, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. A skirmish took place on the beach on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020 which resulted in two coastal communities banning day trippers from the city. By Sunday, a "gang of outsiders was being blamed, and two coastal communities had banned day trippers from the city. We are here in a country called Belgium, where the law is the law, Lippens said. ___Mayo reported from Knokke-Heist, Belgium.
On sad anniversary, few to mourn the D-Day dead in Normandy
In sharp contrast to the 75th anniversary of D-Day, this year's 76th will be one of the loneliest remembrances ever, as the coronavirus pandemic is keeping nearly everyone from traveling. It poses a particular threat to the elderly like the surviving D-Day veterans who are in their late nineties or older. All across the beaches of Normandy tens of thousands came from across the globe to pay their respects to the dead and laud the surviving soldiers. The acrid smell of wartime-era jeep exhaust fumes and the rumble of old tanks filled the air as parades of vintages vehicles went from village to village. Someday the COVID-19 pandemic, too, will pass, and people will turn out to remember both events that shook the world.
WWII allies, Germany mark 75 yrs since Battle of the Bulge
In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, a World War II model plane with navigation maps and a photograph are displayed at the Remember Museum 39-45 in Thimister-Clermont, Belgium. The museum houses countless World War II objects, but it's most important collection are stories and photos of those who served in World War II, mostly during the Battle of the Bulge. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)BASTOGNE – Side by side, the Allies and former enemy Germany togethermarked the 75th anniversary of one of the most important battles in World War II — the Battle of the Bulge, which stopped Adolf Hitler's last-ditch offensive to turn the tide of the war. The American armed forces, together with their allies, liberated Europe and they also liberated Germany. After the fighting in the Battle of the Bulge ended on Jan. 28, 1945, Allied forces invaded Germany, eventually leading to the Nazi surrender and the end of the war in Europe.