Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved the lives of 669 children by bringing them out of German-occupied Czechoslovakia on the eve of the Second World War, is to receive the Order of the White Lion, the Czech Republic’s highest state distinction. President Miloš Zeman’s office announced the news on the occasion of Sir Nicholas Winton’s 105th birthday. Winton organized train transports of Jewish children from Czechoslovakia to Britain in 1939, securing departure permits from the German authorities, entry permits from Britain and their admission to British families. The children would otherwise have ended up in concentration camps and gas chambers. Czech top officials have repeatedly nominated Sir Nicholas Winton for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Czech Embassy in London is hosting a celebration in honour of Sir Nicholas Winton’s 105th birthday on Monday. Sir Nicholas is expected to attend the event together with some of the 669 children whose lives he saved in an operation known as the Czech Kindertransport. His daughter, Barbara Winton, will present a new biography of her father called “ If it's Not Impossible…” exploring the motivation and early experiences that led him to save young lives when others looked the other way. There are around 6,000 people in the world today who owe their lives to Sir Nicholas Winton, descendants of the children whose lives he saved. An exhibition of photographs on Prague’s Kampa Island also maps Sir Winton’s brave deed.
The three parties of the ruling coalition are to meet on Monday to finalize the details of a draft law on the civil service. The bill, which will set down rules governing the civil service and determine the status of the country’s 80 thousand or so civil service employees, should help secure a professional efficient and non-corrupt administration. The Czech Republic is the only EU member state which has so far failed to implement such a legislation, which has elicited strong criticism from Brussels.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said he will push for civil servants to get a salary increase higher than the 2.5 percent proposed by Finance Minister Andrej Babiš. Salary hikes for civil servants in 2015 have become an issue of controversy between the two biggest coalition partners, the Social Democrats and ANO, with the Social Democrats trying to make good on their generous election promises, and ANO, which controls the finance ministry, pushing for greater fiscal restraint. The junior partner in the centre-left coalition the Christian Democrats have so far failed to take a stand. The matter is to be debated at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.
The Czech Finance Ministry on Monday launched its spring issue of government bonds worth about 5 billion Czech crowns. It is offering investors three different maturities. Interest in the bonds is said to be considerable. The ministry, which has spring and autumn bond sales, plans to issue 20 to 50 billion crowns worth of retail bonds in 2014. The gross borrowing need for this year is expected to be 400 billion crowns. To date, the state has issued retail bonds worth 87.6 billion crowns or 5 percent of the overall state debt.
The Czech Food Inspection Office has issued a health warning with regard to cherry tomatoes imported from Morocco which may cause indigestion, vomiting and stomach cramps. The warning comes from the French authorities where 16 people suffered severe indigestion problems after consuming this particular brand of cherry tomatoes. According to the Food Inspection Office over 50,000 kilos of these tomatoes were imported to the Czech Republic. They are being sold in the Kaufland, Billa and Penny Market chains. Potentially contaminated batches were sold after April 20th.
The renowned Czech painter and graphic artist Adriena Šimotová has died in Prague at the age of 87. Šimotová launched her career in the early 1960s to become one of the most distinguished artists on the Czech art scene during the latter half of the 20th century. Her early lyrical landscape motifs were later replaced by a single major theme - the human body. Her works included painting, textile collage, graphic art, drawing, frottage, installation and pigment drawing for which she won numerous foreign and Czech awards. Her works can be found in Tokyo, Paris or Stockholm.
A three-year research project on the state of Czechs’ health conducted by Masaryk University concludes that poor eating habits and a lack of physical activity negatively affect people’s health as they grow older, with people over 50 at high risk. This concerns particularly natural age-related changes such as loss of muscle tissue, bone density and internal fat stored up around vital organs which progress faster due to a poor life-style. The research conducted on 3,000 people shows that Czechs over 50 generally get little physical activity, do not walk enough and often move at a slower pace than their fitter compatriots elsewhere.
Police in the town of Mankovice are investigating a curious case –the theft of ten beehives complete with thousands of bees. Their owner said the hives had been stolen over the weekend from his cherry orchid. The damage is estimated at over 60 thousand crowns. It is the second bee theft in the region this year, and the forth case since 2011. None of the hives were ever traced.
The Czech national hockey team is close to reaching the quarter-finals of the ice hockey world championships after beating Norway 1-0 in Sunday night’s game at Chizhovka Arena. The only goal of the game was scored after 39 seconds, when Norway’s goaltender Steffen Soberg lost track of a rebound after a Tomáš Hertl shot from close distance. Vladimír Sobotka, trailing, picked up the puck and put it past the netminder. The win takes the Czech team up to 10 points, giving them an opportunity to secure third place in Group A with a win in Tuesday’s game against France.