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Today's Top Stories - August 10, 2012
Recurring car thefts at Brussels airport
Over the past three months, at least one car a week has been stolen from the car park at Brussels Airport, Zaventem. This surprising statistic was reported by VTM, the Flemish TV station, based on information from the Brussels prosecutor. VTM said the thieves broke into the cars within a couple of minutes and drove off behind a car driven by an accomplice. Since May, six luxury Renaults and seven BMWs (X5 and X6 series) have been taken. "These cars are popular and can be easily resold," explained Ken Weckhuysen of the federal police. VTM said Interparking, the company which is responsible for the car park and promises secure parking with camera surveillance on its website, had declined to comment.
Homebuyers do not benefit from drop in interest rates
The all-time low level of the official interest rates for mortgage loans is not reflected in the rates offered by Belgian banks, De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad report. The “reference index” – which is used to calculate all flexible-rate mortgages – has, in the last few months, dropped to 0.426%, a record low. Each month, the National Bank of Belgium determines ten reference indexes upon which the different types of flexible-rate mortgages are based (shorter terms guaranteeing better rates). But this historic low does not really translate into better deals for homebuyers –practically speaking, it is not easier to get a cheaper mortgage now than it was a few years ago. One of the reasons for this is that banks are awaiting the imminent normalisation of interest rates, which are expected to rise.
Rise in number of self-employed workers over age of 65
The number of self-employed people in Belgium working beyond the retirement age of 65 has increased by 10% in five years, as announced by the Syndicat Neutre pour Indépendants (SNI). According to the trade union, 73,691 self-employed workers over the age of 65 were professionally active in 2011, representing 7.6 percent of the total number of self-employed people in Belgium. The number of salaried employees working over the age of 65 was no more than 1%. Union president Christine Mattheeuws said it was not surprising as one-fifth of retired self-employed workers received a pension of less than €500 a month.
Sun forecast for final weekend of Brussels Beach
The city beach area on the banks of the Brussels canal closes down for the summer on Sunday. With sunshine forecast for the weekend, the sandy beach area hopes to draw hundreds of visitors. A packed programme includes a closing party tonight (Friday) with DJs, and sporting activities on Saturday afternoon, followed by a rock festival (featuring Naughty Mouse, Daggers, Castles and more) plus a party, complete with DJ’s, at the Boat Club. On Sunday, the tenth edition of “Bruxelles-les-Bains” will wind down with a beach soccer tournament. Full details from www.bruxelleslesbains.be.
Shooting stars over Belgium
The Perseid meteor will be raining over Belgian skies for the next 10 days. Some 100 ‘flashes’ should be visible across the country. Every summer the Earth passes through the Perseid meteor cloud that is at the origin of these shooting stars. Astronomers predict that the stars will be at their most intense during Sunday and Monday night with a maximum of 100 meteors an hour between midnight and 6.00. Keen observers should look to the north east where Perseus first rises after sunset. Lying on the ground is recommended as the best viewing position. Good visibility is dependent on cloud cover in the sky, but the absence of the moon on Sunday and Monday night will be favourable to star gazing this year.