Czechs are high on the list of Europeans who are wary of foreign migrants, according to the results of a Eurobarometre poll. On average 58 percent of Europeans are against opening their doors to more foreign migrants with Latvia, Greece, Italy and Cyprus topping the list of anti-immigration countries. In the Czech Republic 75 percent of respondents expressed themselves against a migrant friendly policy and moreover strongly opposed a joint policy on migrants within the EU. Among the most tolerant countries in this respect is Sweden where only 25 percent of respondents would close the country’s doors to migrants.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will head a business delegation to South Korea next week. The aim of the visit, the first by a Czech head of government in 14 years, is to boost investment and trade and help create more job opportunities. The Czech prime minister will be received by the South Korean President Park Geun-hye, address a bilateral business forum and attend the opening of a Czech center in Soul. Last year the Czech Republic attracted two large South Korean investment projects – the construction of a factory by the car maker Hyundai Mobis and the construction of a car tire plant by Nexen Tire. Together they created more than 2,000 new job opportunities.
The discrepancy in pensions between Czech men and women has not changed in the last one or two decades, according to the Social Security Office. Women receive pensions that are on average twenty percent lower than men. While men receive on average twelve thousand crowns a month, women get around ten thousand. This stems from the discrepancy in pay during their work years. An expert commission has advised the government to consider calculating the pensions of married couples from their joint earnings.
A runaway freight train loaded with coal is reported to have derailed near Paskov in the Frýdek Mýstek region. Czech Railways reported on the accident on Friday, saying that despite massive damage to the rail tracks and several carriages passenger transport would not be affected. The twenty-two-carriage train had been sidelined and was ready for transport when for unknown reasons it came loose and crashed at the nearest shunt switch. The damage has been estimated at millions of crowns.
A new charge-free help line has been put into operation for victims of domestic violence. The help line (116 006) was introduced by the Bílý Kruh Bezpečí NGO which previously operated paid lines. The new 24-hour charge-free service will be operated by 35 employees, both psychologists and lawyers. It will be open to six callers simultaneously. The paid lines previously received 20 calls a day.
Prague City Hall has approved its 2015 budget with expenditures projected at 56.3 billion crowns and revenues of 42.1 billion. The difference will be covered by state funds. The lion’s share of expenditures will be used for transport, which includes the construction of the Blanka tunnel expected to open in about two months’ time, the reconstruction of two Prague bridges and general road maintenance. This year’s budget includes a brand new chapter –expenditures relating to the development of social housing. Up until now City Hall operated on a provisional budget.
A judge of the Supreme Administrative Court has been removed from his post for intentionally delaying court hearings on certain cases and doctoring evidence. Irregularities were found in 78 cases that the judge dealt with. The matter was dealt with by a disciplinary commission after a complaint from a regional court judge. The case is being investigated by the police. The judger, Roman Čonka, was not available for comment.
Smog continues to plague Moravia and Silesia with pollution exceeding permitted norms at fourteen out of fifteen monitoring stations in the regions. In the vicinity of the big cities the amount of dust particles in the air is exceeded several-fold. Smog is a huge problem in this part of the country during the winter months. In addition to industrial producers and traffic it is made worse by the burning of brown coal which is the cheapest and most widespread form of heating.
ANO and the Social Democrats (ČSSD) are almost head to head on the latest poll of voting intentions. The February survey by the CVVM agency showed ANO continuing in first place with 31% of voting intentions followed by ČSSD with 28%. ANO’s support is one percentage point higher than in January with the Social Democrats 0.5 percentage point higher. The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM), Christian Democrats, TOP 09, and Civic Democrats would all win seats in the lower house, the poll suggested. The Dawn Party (Úsvit) subject to a recent split, would not pss the 5.0 percent support threshold and get into parliament.
Two stunt aircraft from the Czech aerobatics team, the Flying Bulls, collided with each other during a mid-air performance in India. Although both aircraft were damaged, the planes were able to land and there were no injuries. The leader of the team, sponsored by Red Bull, is the woman pilot Radka Máchová with the other pilots also Czechs. She was reported by local media to be one of the pilots involved in the incident. The accident happened at the Air India show being staged at Banagalore with performances interrupted for 90 minutes as a result. Czech Minister of Defence Martin Stropnický was due to visit the air show as part of his current visit to India.
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A mask-tree as a form of solidarity
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