Plzeň’s Škoda Transportation company has signed a contract with the German state railway operator Deutsche Bahn worth 2.6 billion crowns, to produce six new trains for the neighboring region of Bavaria. The trains will be made up of locomotives type 109E and five double-deck passenger cars, specially designed for Deutsche Bahn’s regional operator DB Regio. The trains are scheduled to begin running in December 2016. The contract with one of the top railway companies in Europe will help open more international opportunities for Škoda Transportation.
Twelve regional governors have expressed support for the caretaker government of Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok. Thirteen of the 14 regional leaders participated in the vote of the Association of Region. The mayor of Prague Tomáš Hudeček was the only one to voted against supporting the government. The governors who voted in support of Mr. Rusnok were from the Social Democratic and Communist parties. Mr. Rusnok is now counting on the support of 97 MPs during the Wednesday confidence vote in the lower house of parliament, which is sufficient if there are no more than 193 MPs present. Leaders of the former center-right coalition parties – Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and LIDEM – said they will not support the caretaker government; the Social Democrats and Communists will most likely announce their stance on Tuesday.
Walt Disney Pictures has expressed an interest in being the international distributor for a new nature documentary film Aldabra, which was shot by a Czech team on a remote island of the same name in the Indian Ocean. The film, which should be released in 3D in the Czech Republic in October, was directed by Steve Lichtag, who was born in Znojmo as Zdeněk Loveček. Disney pictures have already provided and advisor for the team and has begun preparing the English version of the commentary. The music for the film was created by a Czech-American team of artists including the Prague-based Robert Jíša, member of the band King Crimson Tony Levin and even Peter Gabriel. The island Aldabra, which Jacques Cousteau visited some sixty years ago, is an uninhabited coral atoll with a wealth of exotic wildlife and underwater fauna.
Some 10,000 Czech homes were left without electricity after strong winds and storms on Sunday, particularly in the Central Bohemian, Pardubice and Plzeň regions. Fire fighters responded in some 350 cases on Sunday afternoon and night in western Bohemia, and dozens of cases in the Moravian Olomouc and Zlín regions. Because of the large number of high voltage facilities that were damaged, a state of emergency has been temporarily declared in the Pardubice and Central Bohemian regions. Twenty-five people (18 of them youngsters) were evacuated from a children’s camp in Jablečná na Rokycansku.
The former and current town councilors of the north Moravian Frýdek-Místek have been charged over alleged overpriced tenders given out from 2010 to 2012. Former mayor, current councilwoman and senator for the Social Democratic party Eva Richtrová told the Czech News Agency that the corruption charges were apparently filed on Friday, although she has not yet received any formal paperwork. The police would have to file a request with the senate to rescind Mrs. Richtrová’s parliamentary immunity in order to prosecute her.
Chairman of the Social Democratic party Bohuslav Sobotka said that he is planning to propose that his party walks out during the confidence vote for the interim government on Wednesday. The Social Democratic party will most likely decide on its position on Tuesday. Mr. Sobotka said that not participating in the vote at allow will allow his party to distance itself from Jiří Rusnok’s government, but they will also not be voting with their political rivals in the Civic Democratic and TOP 09 parties. If all of his party members were to accept this strategy, it would mean that Mr. Rusnok’s government will not win the confidence vote. Leaders of the former center-right coalition have said that all of their MPs should be present at the Wednesday vote and are expected to vote against the caretaker government.
Petr Zusak and Michal Dočekal, who were until recently the artistic directors of ballet and drama at the Czech National Theater, have called on Prime Minister Rusnok to immediately dismiss the Culture Minister Jiří Balvín. They have asked the caretaker prime minister to name a strong leader to the post. Mr. Balvín undermined his own position in the eyes of many members of the artistic community when he fired the head of the National Theater Jan Burian last Thursday, and then re-instated him under pressure from the prime minister a day later. In protest over the dismissal, artistic directors of all three sections of the theater as well as over 20 actors and directors resigned last week.
The Supreme Audit Office has found that the construction of Czech highways could have been cheaper by one-fifth: one kilometer of new highway in past construction projects, averaged 416 million crowns. The bureau focused on road construction from 2008 to 2012 and included comparisons with neighboring Germany in its valuation. A network of roads and throughways conceived in the 1990s by the Transport Ministry was to have been completed by now. But according to current estimates, it could take another 32 years and cost the state 520 billion crowns before all plans are fulfilled.
The bodies of two Czech tourists, who died last week under yet unknown circumstances in Egypt, will most likely be transported to the Czech Republic on Tuesday, according to the Foreign Ministry. The mother and her 8-year old daughter were found dead in their hotel room in the Egyptian resort of Hurghada by the husband of the woman and father of the child, who is being prevented from leaving the country by Egyptian authorities. The father has not been charged by the police, but has been asked to remain in the country as the only known person connected to the incident. Doctors in Hurghada have said that the two victims must have ingested a strong poison, most likely in liquid form. The official results of the autopsy examination have not been released.
The oldest Czech man, Karel Kašpárek, has died on Sunday night in the town of Náchod. Mr. Kašpáerk, who was also born in Náchod, celebrated his 107th birthday this past December. He has lived in Náchod’s home for the elderly for the past 12 years, but was self-sufficient until fairly recently. The oldest living Czech woman, Evangelie Čarasová who was born in Greece, celebrated her 109th birthday in February. According to official figures from June, there are 850 centenarians living in the Czech Republic.
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“Einstein in Bohemia” – Part II: how alienation in ‘half-barbaric’ Prague led him to a new theory of gravity, eventual love of a free Czechoslovakia
“Einstein in Bohemia” – part 1: how a Prague sojourn sparked his theory of general relativity, journey of self-discovery