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Government commits to minimum six percent pay rise for teachers

The country’s teachers should see a pay rise next year of at least six percent (but as high as eight depending on personal evaluation); the news was confirmed via twitter by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. In his tweet, the prime minister stated that teachers and education were a priority for the government; teachers' unions have been pushing for an increase of at least 10 percent. Besides education, the government is putting special emphasis on the health sector and science, the prime minister added. The draft budget, as outlined, is counting on a deficit of 60 billion crowns next year.

Czech theologian and philosopher Halík receives honorary doctorate from Oxford

Czech theologian and philosopher Tomáš Halík on Wednesday received an honorary doctorate from Oxford University. Halík is only the fourth Czech to be given the honour, after Czechoslovakia’s first president, T.G. Masaryk (in 1927), Edvard Beneš (1940), and Václav Havel (1990). Culture Minister Daniel Herman, who was present at the ceremony, called it an extraordinary event; among the ten recipients this year are also American economist Paul Krugman, Spanish director Pedro Almodovar and Apple designer Jonathan Ive.

Organisers confirm Dalai Lama to take part in Forum 2000 this year

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama will travel to the Czech Republic to take part in this year’s Forum 2000, a conference founded 20 years ago this year by the Czech Republic’s first president Václav Havel. During his life, Mr Havel counted the Dalai Lama a close personal friend. According to organisers, the Dalai Lama, 80, will give a public talk on October 19.

Unknown Havel diaries to be published in October on occasion of what would have been late president’s 80th birthday

Diaries until now unknown which were kept by playwright and dissident Václav Havel when he was imprisoned by the Communist regime in 1977 will be published this year by the Václav Havel Library in Prague on the occasion of what would have been his 80th birthday. The entries were written over a period of several months in what has been described as one of the most dramatic perids of his life, when Mr Havel was jailed following the release of the Charter 77 manifesto in January 1977. The document was initially signed by some 242 people motivated in part by the arrest in the previous year of band members from the Plastic People of the Universe. The unknown writings were only uncovered recently.

Kundera's Life is Elsewhere sees first Czech-language edition published in Czech Republic

Czech-born novelist Milan Kundera’s second book Life is Elsewhere (1973) has been published for the first time in the Czech Republic. The news was confirmed by Jana Uhdeová of Atlantis publishers in Brno for the Czech News Agency. Life is Elsewhere came out in Czech only once before, in Canada in 1979 by 68 Publishers run by Josef Škvorecký and Zdena Salivarová. Kundera has written in French since the 1990s; his last novel that was written in Czech was Immortality.

Blanka tunnel sees average of 75,000 vehicles daily

A survey by the Technical Administration of Roadways of the Capital of Prague suggests that an average of 75,000 vehicles pass through the city’s Blanka tunnel daily. The most-heavily used section (of three) is the Brusnice tunnel, followed by the Bubeneč section and finally Dejvice tunnel. Traffic above ground improved on major streets such as Milada Horáková, Argentinská and Veletržní, but worsened elsewhere - namely in parts of Dejvice - where routes leading from Vítězne naměstí have become clogged at peak hours. The Blanka tunnel complex was opened last September after several years in delay. The project cost the city more than 40 billion crowns.

Two defendants found guilty of racially-motivated attack sentenced to almost seven years in prison

Prague’s High Court has sentenced defendants Tomáš Kopecký and Michal Poláček to six years and nine months in prison for a racially-motivated attack against Romanies in 2012. The duo targetted a boarding house in Aš in the west of the country, throwing Molotov cocktails into two apartments. The attack was qualified as attempted murder. There were 18 people in the building at the time – eight of them children. No one was hurt in the incident.

Halík denies being barred by Church from standing for president

The priest and theologian Tomáš Halík has denied he is being barred by the Czech Roman Catholic Church from standing in the next election for president in 2018. Mr. Halík said he believed that a comment by President Miloš Zeman on Tuesday that the church would stop a priest running was a reference to him, telling the Czech News Agency he regarded this as attack on his person. The priest said Mr. Zeman’s words were timed to coincide with his receiving an honorary doctorate at Oxford University. He is only the fourth Czech to be so honoured.

Lightweight plastic bags will no longer be free in shops

Czech shops in the future will no longer give even lightweight plastic bags for free, the government decided on Wednesday approving an amendment which meets European standards. Only sandwich bags for rolls or bread in stores will still be allowed for free, Environment Minister Richard Brabec said. The ban is to come into effect in 2018 but many stores have adopted the approach already.

Czechs exit Euros after picking up just one point in three games

The Czech Republic have been knocked out of football’s European Championship in France. With one point from two games going into their final group match with Turkey, the Czechs needed a win to keep their hopes of progress to the knockout stage alive. However, they lost 2:0 after conceding one goal in each half and failing to reply. Manager Pavel Vrba said he saw no reason why he should step down after the country’s poor showing at Euro 2016. Jaroslav Plašil and David Lafata have announced their international retirements and there is speculation that Petr Čech and Tomáš Rosický have also played their final games for the national side.