The Czech Republic’s most famous Romany singer Věra Bílá has died at
the age of 64, the news site Romea.cz reported. The singer reportedly died
in hospital after suffering a heart attack.
Bílá gained international acclaim performing Romany folk songs with the group Kale. They released their first album in 1996 and in later years performed live at venues around Europe and the United States.
Věra and Kale split up in 2005 on account of Bílá’s problems with gambling. Only this week she was planning to make a big comeback with Jan Bendig and Milan Krok, one of the singers from Kale.
Emergency work to restore power to thousands of homes continued for a
second night in succession in the wake of damage caused by the windstorm
Eberhard which swept through central Europe on Sunday night damaging roofs,
felling trees and bringing down power lines.
In the initial phase of the storm hundreds of thousands of homes were left without power, on Monday night emergency crews restored power to some 35,000 homes in hard-to-reach destinations.
Clean-up work continues in the country’s forests where the storm felled around a million trees and people around the country have started reporting damages to insurance companies. The damages are expected to be in the tens of millions of crowns.
President Miloš Zeman has said that the main benefit of NATO membership is
the security guarantees it provides.
Speaking in an interview for the CTK news agency on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Czech Republic’s entry to NATO, President Zeman said the main threat facing the alliance today is international terrorism.
He said in this connection that he would support a re-enforcement of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.
He criticized peace-talks with the Taliban, comparing them to the policy of appeasement of the Western powers at the outset of WWII.
An agreement with the Taliban would mean that it would once again make Afghanistan a base for international terrorism, Zeman warned.
Finance Minister Alena Schillerová will be holding one-on-one talks with
individual cabinet ministers this week to try to agree on cost-cutting
measures that would save next year’s state budget 25 billion crowns and
keep the deficit below 40 billion crowns.
The finance minister has said the cuts are necessary in view of the slowing economy and has suggested individual ministers put forward their own suggestions as to where money could best be saved.
Minister Schillerová herself has suggested making redundant 10 percent of public sector employees.
The opposition has criticized the government for squandering money and the Communist Party, whose votes are essential to keeping the minority government in office, is calling for a 30 billion crown deficit next year.
Interior Minister Jan Hamáček has said he is confident that there were no
police leaks from the investigation surrounding the company Kapsch and the
Czech anti-monopoly office in Brno.
Following a meeting with Police President Jan Švejdar, Minister Hamáček said that the information acquired by the media was from documents given to suspects implicated in the case and their lawyers. He said no information from police wiretappings had got out.
Police President Švejdar defended his men earlier, saying that no information at all had escaped until the raids were conducted, and said it was not possible to keep the case completely under wraps once people had been charged.
The country’s organised crime unit last week raided the Prague headquarters of the Austrian firm Kapsch, the Brno headquarters of the anti-monopoly office and the home of ANO deputy chair Jaroslav Faltýnek, among others, on suspicion of corruption.
Kapsch’s CEO Karel Feix, the head of the anti-monopoly office Petr Rafaj and several others are suspected of having tried to manipulate a tender to operate the electronic toll collection system in the Czech Republic.
A clean-up operation continues in many parts of the country in the wake of
damage caused by gale-force winds overnight.
Damaged power lines left thousands of homes without power and road and rail traffic was disrupted by fallen trees.
In the Snežka Mountain region the wind blew at over 206 km per hour, in the lower altitudes at around 110 km per hour.
Emergency workers were on call throughout the night, with fire-crews reporting over 2,800 emergency calls in the course of the nigh hours.
Over 100 Czech scientists and academics have signed a proclamation in
support of the global student strike aiming to raise awareness of the need
to fight climate change.
The proclamation says that given how significantly the Czech Republic still contributes to pollution, for instance by coal burning, its inhabitants cannot pretend that the problem does not concern them.
The global appeal launched by 15-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg under the motto Fridays For Future has won support from young people around the world.
Over 2,500 Czech secondary school students from Prague, Brno, Ostrava, Olomouc and other towns and cities plan to take part in the strike this Friday.
The protest actions will have different forms including pro-climate gatherings and marches.
Visitors to the Brain Week Festival that gets underway on Monday in Prague
can learn how to improve their memory, rid themselves of phobias and attend
lectures on developments in neurology and related fields.
The festival, held under the auspices of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, will feature various “mind games”, for example, one that gives visitors a chance to control a flying ball using their brainwaves.
Speakers include Josef Syka of the Institute of Experimental Medicine, who will discuss the brain’s auditory system; Cyril Höschl of the National Institute of Mental Health, who will explain burnout syndrome and how to handle stress; and Jaroslav Hlinka of the Institute of Computer Science, who will discuss data analysis and imaging of brain activity.
Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is in Prague to mark the
20th anniversary of the Czech Republic’s accession to NATO. She was a
leading voice in advocating for expansion of the military alliance to
In the coming days, the Czech-born Albright will take part in various events marking the anniversary and discussing NATO’s legacy and current role. She will also present her latest book, Fascism: A Warning.
On Monday, Albright is due to hold a public discussion with former diplomat Michael Žantovský at the Law Faculty of Charles University.
On Tuesday, the anniversary of Czech membership in NATO, she will take part in an international forum at Prague Castle. She is among 14 people who will receive the new Medal of Merit Award for Diplomacy handed over by Minister of Foreign Affairs Tomáš Petříček .
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