Czech Railways has acquired 50 older train cars from Austria's Österreichische Bundesbahnen (ÖBB) at the cost of 14.4 million euros, news sit iDnes reports. The train carriages will be used mainly on routes including Prague to Žilina and Budapest and Bohumín and Břeclav. The transport firm reportedly beat out private competitor RegioJet which also had an interest.
Ski jumper Roman Koudelka finished second in the FIS World Cup event in Engelberg, Switzerland, on Saturday, the third time he has finished on the podium this season. On his second jump he landed 136.5 metres but was deducted points (due to headwind). He was narrowly beaten by Germany's Richard Freitag.
Pavel Bělobrádek, the head of the Christian Democratic Party (one of three parties in the current government) has confirmed he will seek another term as chairman at an upcoming party congress. Mr Bělobrádek suggested several months ago he might consider giving up politics for family reasons. He has strongly denied health reasons could play a role (the party head and deputy prime minister suffers from multiple sclerosis). He allowed it was probably his last run for the post for some time. So far, Bělobrádek - who successfully led his party back to national politics in 2013 - faces no challengers.
A muddy, not white, Christmas is what Czechs can expect in a few days, meteorologists have said, issuing a forecast for next week featuring unusually-mild daily temperatures exceeding 10 degrees Celsius with a probability of rain. According to the forecast, freezing daytime temperatures will only arrive in mid-January.
The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority has issued a warning to consumers to avoid a children's porridge by German bio producer Alnatura, which was found to have traces of atropine - a naturally-occurring tropane alkaloid which is toxic at high levels. The inspection authority ordered all of the goods in question be removed from store shelves; Alnatura preventively pulled all of its children's line containing millet, a spokeswoman for the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority said.The product is sold at DM drugstores in the Czech Republic.
A US military plane with a supply of Czech ammunition for Kurds fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq took off from the airport in Pardubice before noon on Saturday, the spokeswoman for the General Staff of the Czech Army confirmed. Some 5,000 anti-tank shells for RPG 7 launchers were provided. The plane's destination was Irbil. A day earlier, a Czech military CASA plane brought equipment as well as American personnel to Pardubice from their base in Ramstein, Germany, who helped prepare the payload for the journey, the Czech news agency said. At the end of August, the Czech government approved the donation of 41 million crowns worth of ammunition against IS (also known as ISIS and ISIL). The first munitions deliveries took place in September.
The head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, together with almost two dozen speakers of parliament and deputy speakers, will attend a commemorative event in the Czech Republic in January marking the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in neighbouring Poland in WWII, the Czech News Agency reported on Friday. According to ČTK, citing the US Embassy in Prague, US President Barack Obama had spoken to his Czech counterpart to say he would not be able to attend. Russian President Vladimir Putin, another invitee, is also expected to decline. From heads of state, only Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev has confirmed his participation officially. A two-day international forum, organised by the European Jewish Congress and other organisations, will be held in Prague and Terezin, north Bohemia, on January 26-27.
The unseasonably warm weather has been breaking temperature records around the country. The highest temperatures were recorded at weather stations in Lednice and Pohořelice in south Moravia where they reached 14.8 degrees Celsius. The weekend is expected to bring a cold spell with snow in altitudes 400 meters above sea level and a strong wind. Drivers have warned about snow drifts on less frequented roads.
According to a survey conducted by the CVVM polling agency public trust in Czech President Miloš Zeman has dropped further, to 34 percent compared to 37 percent in November. The president’s trust rating took a dive in October dropping by 21 percent in the wake of a number of controversial statements he made on a state visit to China and a radio interview peppered with vulgar language. Mr. Zeman had the trust of 61 percent of Czechs when he took office in March of 2013.
The Czech finance ministry wants to raise taxes on gambling to almost double the amount it collects from the industry at present. Companies currently pay the standard 19 percent corporate tax rate plus an additional sector tax of 20 percent of winnings. The finance ministry is proposing to raise the gambling tax to 40 percent as of 2016. The annual payment for one gaming machine will go up from the current 20,000 to 40,000 crowns.