Today the place is known as Belgium, but there is trouble there. The Czech news site iDNES reports that the perennial friction between the French-speaking Wallonie region and Flemish-speaking Flanders region has been exacerbated by the Chinese gift of two pandas. This, in spite of the fact that Chinese gifts of pandas are intended as symbols of peace (in 2008, they even gave a pair to Taiwan).
At issue is the ultimate destination of the two hairy ambassadors of peace, which are due to arrive in Belgium next year. The Flemish are upset that the pandas will be housed in a private zoo near the Walloon city of Mons instead of the national zoo in Flemish Antwerp. They accuse the current Prime Minister, Elio di Rupo, of bias because he used to be mayor of Mons. The Waloons, on the other hand, are upset over the accusation of partiality.
This seems a hopelessly beastly conundrum, but perhaps there is a solution. Since NATO supreme headquarters (SHAPE) is in Mons, the pandas could be delivered to NATO, and maintained by NATO for the benefit of all Belgians, indeed all Europeans.
I am not sure this is a feasible solution, but it’s worth a shot. If it fails, there is always my son David’s and daughter-in-law Meagan’s backyard in Virginia Beach, which is overrun with bamboo that is in constant need of drastic harvesting.
Anyone know Elio di Rupo’s e-mail address?