21 June 2005
Several newspapers headlined with the Belgian cloning breakthrough, but concerns of credit card fraud were also widely reported.
Scientists clone human embryos
Ghent University scientists have successfully cloned the first human embryos from unripe eggs matured in a laboratory. The achievement could help overcome a stumbling block in stem cell research. Previously, scientists had used donated mature eggs — which are in short supply — to clone human embryos. However, the Belgian academics have shown that immature eggs not suitable for fertility treatments can be grown in the laboratory. These eggs can then be used to create embryos for stem cell research and cloning to treat a range of diseases.
Fourniret victim's bones found
The Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team has recovered the final remains of French girl Manayna Thumpong, 13, who was kidnapped in Sedan (France) on 5 May 2001 by confessed serial killer Michel Fourniret. The DVI dug up various small pieces of the girl's skeleton in the woods at Nollevaux on Monday. A hiker found the girl's body on 1 March 2002. Her parents have returned to the site several times in recent years, but have discovered on every visit leftover bones the Neufchâteau police left behind, 'De Standaard' reported. The DVI found another 15 bones at a depth of 15 to 20cm and believes all of the bones have now been recovered. In Saint-Cécile (Florenville), Belgium police also started searching on Monday for another possible Fourniret murder victim.
Credit card fraud hits Belgium
Banks are being forced to urgently replace 3,800 credit cards in Belgium as a massive fraud case spreads from the US across the Atlantic. The Bank Card Company (BCC), which supplies the credit cards Visa and Mastercard, said the 3,800 cards had not yet been abused, but said they needed to be quickly replaced to prevent fraudulent transactions, 'De Tijd' reported. "We are trying to contact the cardholders as quickly as possible. They need to exchange their credit card for a new one at their bank," a BCC spokeswoman said. The data of 40 million credit cards was fraudulently accessed in the US recently.
Headaches over drink driving tests
The number of motorists forced to undergo psychiatric tests before being allowed to drive again after being caught for drink driving is almost 10 times higher than two years ago. The spectacular rise is due to new legislation that came into affect in March 2003, forcing drink drivers to undergo psychiatric tests before getting their licence back. In 2003, just 350 tests were conducted, but 1,000 were recorded last year and 1,500 have already been processed this year, 'Het Nieuwsblad' reported. The Flemish Public Employment Service (VDAB) can no longer cope with the demand and has raised the matter with Transport Minister Renaat Landuyt and Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx. Both ministers are prepared to hand the tests over to another organisation, such as the Belgian Institute for Traffic Safety.
Dry weather spells looming harvest crisis
Besides the water supply problems in Hageland, newspaper 'Het Laatste Nieuws' also focused on a looming agricultural crisis. It quoted agriculture experts and the Farmers Union (Boerenbond) saying that unless it starts to rain this week, the dry weather could prove disastrous for the Belgian harvest. It is already too late for flesh vegetables growing outdoors, but the corn, potato and beet harvest could still be saved if rain comes this week. However, weatherman Eddy de Mey fears the worst: besides a shower or two on the weekend, the dry spell will continue until at least 5 July.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news