Former Czech president Václav Klaus has ruled out a candidacy to the European Parliament, telling Czech Radio's flagship Radiožurnál on Sunday that recent speculation in both the domestic and international media had been unfounded. The former head-of-state, a well-known euro skeptic, last week published a manifesto in which he charged that EU leaders were striving for a superstate that - in his view - would threaten histories of individual countries and as well as democracy. Mr Klaus recently came close to launching a political comeback on the Czech political scene but turned down the opportunity at the last minute on the grounds there wasn't enough time to build a new party ahead of early elections.
Two apartments in a residential building in Havířov were destroyed on Sunday in an explosion that may have resulted from a gas leak. Part of the building collapsed in the incident and 27 people had to be evacuated from their homes. Specialists with sniffer dogs confirmed no one was trapped or had died in the rubble.The police are not ruling out alternative causes behind the explosion. Experts are assessing the extent of the damage.
Next year's state budget deficit could reach 112 billion crowns outgoing Finance Minister Jan Fischer said Sunday on public broadcaster Czech TV. Originally, the interim government had counted on a deficit of two billion less. The finance minister stressed that essential for him was that the number did not exceed three percent of GDP. The government is still to debate the budget proposal; the tripartite, with union, government, and business representatives will also meet to discuss the budget on September 20.
The country's Health Ministry has decided to take steps in combatting alcoholism after surveys suggested repeatedly that alcohol abuse in the country is high, writes news site noviny.cz. According to the website, doctors will now have to screen patients they suspect of alcoholism according to a method known as screening and brief intervention - referring those who abuse alcohol on to specialists. Deputy Health Minister Ferdinand Polák said the system had worked abroad and expressed the hope it would work in the Czech Republic. Specialists have suggested the system could help thousands each year, not least those just slipping into addiction.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, a personal friend of the late
Václav Havel, spoke in Prague on Saturday to an audience of several
hundred people, giving a lecture on the importance of compassion and
respect. His arrival was welcomed by a standing ovation and during his
speech he mentioned Mr Havel several times. The talk was punctuated with
laughter, to which the audience reacted with applause. Mid-way, time was
made for a question period for members of the audience. The Dalai Lama was
invited to Prague by organisers of the Forum 2000 conference, this year
focussing on societies in transition.
The 17th Forum 2000 officially opens on Sunday. More than 100 personalities from all over the world are expected to attend, including Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize holder, and former South African president Frederik de Klerk, also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Jeseník nad Odrou in the area of Novy Jičín has won the title of Village of the Year 2013. A total of 273 municipalities from 13 regions took part in this year's inception. The competition has been held annually for 19 years. Criteria taken into account in order to win the competition or place highly include excellent infrastructure, services, and overall layout and appearance.
Speaking on the same programme, the finance minister said that the Czech Republic faces 40 lawsuits from solar energy producers over changes in support passed by MPs in 2010. Modifications passed then included the introduction of a 26 percent tax over three years. Solar energy producers are seeking damages amounting to 3.3 billion crowns. The finance ministry has taken a tough stance towards the claims.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived in Prague on Saturday ahead of this year’s Forum 2000. The Tibetan spiritual leader last visited two years ago, shortly before the death of former president Václav Havel, with whom he was close friends. On Saturday afternoon the Dalai Lama is scheduled to speak at one of the city’s arenas on the subjects of kindness and mutual respect. Forum 2000, bringing together more than 100 world leaders, now in its 17th year, officially begins on Sunday. Along with the Dalai Lama, notable guests this year include the Burmese winner of the Nobel Peace Prize Aung San Suu Kyi and former president of South Africa, also a holder of the Nobel Peace Prize, Frederik de Klerk.
Descendants of Jan Antonín Baťa -founder of the successful shoe-making empire - have asked Slovakia for millions of euros in compensation for property confiscated under the Beneš Decrees in 1947. The move comes following Baťa’s rehabilitation by Slovakia's courts and a decision to scrap the validity of the 1947 verdict which found him guilty of collaboration with Nazi Germany. The Czechoslovak shoe manufacturer set up four industrial centres in Slovakia and invested in hotels, spa resorts, and real estate. Baťa’s descendants have staked a similar claim in the Czech Republic where they are demanding 56 million crowns in compensation for confiscated property.
The Czech Republic’s state debt rose by 10.5 billion crowns in the first half of 2013, reaching an overall total of more than 1.6 trillion. Broken down, the share of the debt per citizen comes to almost 160 thousand, the Finance Ministry confirmed. According to ministry forecasts, the state debt will rise to 1.8 trillion by the end of next year and 1.9 trillion by the end of 2015.
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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