In the last academic year, 765 Czechs studied at universities in the United States, which was 7 percent less than in the previous period, according to a report by the US group Institute of International Education. Most Czech university students in the US attended bachelor programmes. Jakub Tesař from the Fulbright Commission, which organizes stays at US universities, said high costs were the major obstacle for Czech students intending to study in the United States.
The British synthpop duo Erasure are going to appear in Prague on Tuesday night after a pause of 14 years with a selection of their greatest hits and songs from their latest album “Tomorrow’s World”. The Prague concert at Incheba Arena is part of the band’s world tour which started in Florida in August. Singer Andy Bell and multi-instrumentalist Vince Clark have played four concerts in this country, the first one back in 1988.
The Czech national football team plays Montenegro on Tuesday in the second leg of the EURO 2012 playoffs. The Czechs won the first leg 2:0 in Prague on Friday, boosting their hopes of advancing to the final tournament as the hosts need a three-nil win. The game in Podgorica starts at 8:15 PM. If successful, the Czech national team will be seeded in Pot 4 for the tournament’s final draw.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has met with President Václav Klaus to hand over the resignation of Trade and Industry Minister Martin Kocourek. Mr. Kocourek resigned last week amidst allegations of corruption and financial irregularities. The prime minister is expected to propose a successor to the post from his own Civic Democratic Party within a week's time. Among the possible candidates for the position are Zbyněk Stanjura, head of the party’s deputies’ group in the lower house and one of the party’s leading economic experts Michal Doktor.
The Finance Ministry has denied responsibility for the Czech Republic’s failure to meet a deadline confirming participation in judicial proceedings in Switzerland concerning suspected fraud and money-laundering in one of the Czech Republic’s biggest energy firms – the Mostecká Uhelná coalmining company. Deputy Prime Minister Karolína Peake told Czech Television on Sunday the Czech Republic may lose over 11 billion crowns in assets frozen by the Swiss government earlier this year in connection with the case. Switzerland began a probe into the case in 2005 on suspicion that the company’s directors were embezzling huge sums of money some of which were allegedly being transferred to Swiss accounts within an extensive money-laundering scheme. Seven people have been charged in connection with the case.
A number of regions around the country report smog problems with dust concentration levels far exceeding the permitted norm. The eastern city of Ostrava remains on high smog alert and conditions are bad also in Prague, in North and East Bohemia and in South Moravia. Smog regulation measures are in place in North Moravia restricting traffic and production in the big industrial plants in the area. People with chronic health problems, children and the elderly have been advised to stay indoors as much as possible. The Czech Hydrometerological Institute says the situation is not likely to improve in the coming days.
President Václav Klaus has said that Europe including the Czech Republic is likely to experience “a lost decade” as a result of its deep financial and economic crisis. In an article for the weekly Týden, Mr Klaus blamed the situation on the “organization of the European Union” where “the dictate of politics prevails over economy”. Unless Europe undergoes a deep transformation, Mr Klaus says, it will experience economic marginalization. Mr Klaus likened the “lost decade” he envisages to the 1990s in Japan – a “decade without economic growth, with permanent cuts, austerity measures and social unrest”. Mr Klaus’s views are often labelled as Eurosceptic but he himself prefers the term Eurorealist.
The Czech Foreign Ministry is prepared to send a special envoy to Zambia to attend to the case of three Czechs detained in the country on charges of alleged espionage, should the matter get more complicated, a spokesman for the ministry said on Monday. According to him Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has been attempting to get in touch with his Zambian counterpart for several days without success. The three Czechs were arrested in the Zambian capital Lusaka in mid-October and charged with espionage after taking photos the local police found suspicious. The Czech tourists deny the charges. If sentenced they face up to 25 years in prison.
The Czech Film Commission, a body promoting the Czech Republic as a filming location abroad, has said that by the end of 2011 foreign film productions will have spent over a billion crowns on services related to film projects in the Czech Republic. The same amount is expected to be spent in indirect and derived investment in the supply sectors. The Commission’s Ludmila Claussová said the amount might have been even larger if the film incentive budget had not been limited. She added that last year that the state investment yielded a return of 18 percent. Since last autumn the Czech Film Commission has reported a rising interest among foreign filmmakers in coming to the Czech Republic. Ms Claussová said foreign productions are choosing this country because of its diverse filming locations, skilled film professionals and the state incentive programme that has boosted the local film industry’s competitiveness.
A recent poll by the STEM agency suggests four political parties would pass the five-percent threshold to get into the lower house if elections were held tomorrow. According to the poll, the opposition Social Democrats would receive 25.7 percent of the vote, followed by the Civic Democrats with 14.7 percent. The Communist Party and the junior coalition TOP 09 would both receive 11 percent of the vote. The Christian Democrats would get 2.9 percent while only 2.2 percent of the electorate would vote for the smallest coalition party, Public Affairs.