Frenštát pod Radhoštěm is holding three days of mourning for the victims of this week’s tragic explosion that killed at least five people in an apartment block in the north Moravian town. The tragedy has sparked a wave of unprecedented solidarity with people sending six million crowns to a help- fund for the survivors in the course of just three days. Offers of help have been pouring in from around the country and people are offering to provide accommodation for the families who have now been left homeless. What has profoundly shocked the nation is that the explosion was a deliberate act of violence by one of the block’s inhabitants.
The organized crime unit of the Czech Police has arrested eight men from Kladno, for procurement of sexual services, as well as human and drug trafficking. The men would allegedly have 12 to 15 prostitutes offer their services at a rest-area on the D5 freeway near the town of Rudná near Prague, and took the women’s earnings. The police have followed the gang’s activities since the end of 2011. Three of the accused are in custody, while the other five were released on bail awaiting trial.
TOP 09 would be the second biggest party in the lower house, if parliamentary elections were held today, according to the polling agency STEM. A February poll revealed that TOP 09 had gained the lead on the centre-right with a 14.2% support rating, while its main partner in government, the Civic Democrats, had a mere 11.6%, which is only three tenths of a percentage point ahead of the Communist Party. The Social Democrats, who would win the elections, are supported by 28.2% of respondents.
Two batches of pre-made frozen lasagna that were set to be sold by Tesco in the Czech Republic were found to contain horsemeat instead of beef, which was stated in the ingredients. The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority ordered Tesco to take all of the Nowaco frozen lasagna off the shelves, since the label was misleading customers. The batches that were found to contain horsemeat were marked as having been produced in Luxembourg. Horsemeat can be legally sold in the Czech Republic.
The Palác Akropolis performance and musical art space in Prague will launch a new play called ČEZKO FOREVER/A True Story about a corruption scandal involving the energy company ČEZ and Škoda Power. The production, which is supported by millionaire Karel Janeček’s Anti-Corruption Endowment Fund, will premiere on Monday. The play was inspired by a secret recording of deals made by a well-known lobbyist.
According to the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Office, the country has experienced an unusually low amount of sunlight so far in 2013. In January, there was a total average of 20 hours of sunlight, which is only 43% of the normal amount for this time of year. Last week, only two hours of visible sunlight were registered, which is around 10% of the normal amount for this time. In December, on the other hand, there was a slightly above-average amount of sunlight.
A government bill aimed at regulating the anonymous holding of shares was passed by the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday evening. Critics say the current widespread use of undocumented bearer bonds in the Czech Republic facilitates corruption. Under the new legislation, firms will have to register shares at a central depositary or lodge them in document form at a bank. However, the opposition Social Democrats say the bill does not go far enough; they plan to amend it when it goes before the Senate, which they dominate.
The first European garage designated exclusively for bicycles opened in the center of Hradec Králové. The octagonal multi-story glass structure can house up to 116 bicycles. Bikes are placed in free spots by an automated lift and can be left in the garage for five crowns per day. The investor and creator of the project, Rudolf Bernart, said that he was inspired by a similar garage he saw in Shanghai.
The cabinet has approved the format of contracts on property restitution compensations that will be signed with religious institutions. The Czech government is set to pay out a total of 59 billion crowns over the next 30 years to churches and other religious institutions as compensation for property that was confiscated by the communist regime. Prime Minister Petr Nečas is hoping to sign the contracts before the end of the week. The Social Democratic and the Public Affairs parties have said that the government should wait until the Constitutional Court issues a decision on their suits against the restitution law. One part of the complaint lodged by the Social Democrats claims that the government does not have the right to sign civil contracts concerning government property with legal entities.
The Bulgarian energy regulator announced on Wednesday morning that although proceedings aimed at revoking the distribution license of Czech energy company ČEZ have been launched, a final decision has not been made. The regulator announced that it will continue to look into possible wrongdoings and will hold hearings with the company’s shareholders in April. Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek denied the allegations of the Bulgarian authorities that ČEZ broke a number of regulations while operating in the country.
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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
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