A member of the country’s large Vietnamese community, Mimi Lan Nguyen came to the Czech Republic in the early 1990s while still in her early teens. Today she is a successful fashion designer with a flagship boutique on the capital’s Štěpánská St. The shop is actually on the outside of the grand city centre Lucerna Palace, and it was there that Mimi began introducing me to “her Prague”.
The authorities in Prague 7 have fined an artist over a series of works combining the Czech national flag with that of the Romany people. He says the flags, which appeared on an embankment in the city last summer, were meant to foster debate on tensions between the two communities. However, the local town hall accuses him of defaming a Czech national symbol.
The Czech state welfare payment system has collapsed after the software provider, the firm Fujistsu Technology Solutions, shut it down. The company won a contract on running the system two years ago but the Czech anti-monopoly regulator last year cancelled the tender over breach of rules. The ministry has returned to a payment system it previously used but will have to feed in all data from the Fujistsu software. The ministry has set up an emergency team to deal with the situation; some labour offices are likely to limit their opening hours as a result.
Bavaria's police has heightened checks a border areas to prevent individuals from bringing in unsafe and illegal firecrackers, rockets and other pyrotechnic devices sold in Vietnamese markets on the Czech side of the border not far from crossings. German officials warned that many of the items were dangerous, packed with more explosive material than was the norm. Officials said they had stopped a vehicle smuggling one tonne of the goods, representing a potential health risk.
The Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Dominik Duka, served the traditional Christmas lunch for the homeless and the poor. The lunch was served at the Archbishop Palace and the Capuchin monastery in Prague’s Hradčany district on Wednesday. The menu included beef stock with liver dumplings, beef in cream sauce and roast duck, the organizers said. Some 270 people arrived for the lunch whose tradition started 15 years ago.
The famous Karlovy Vary Grandhotel Pupp, which annually hosts the main receptions for the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, is helping the local branch of the Salvation Army to feed the homeless this Christmas. Using ingredients donated by the cash and carry chain Makro, chefs at the Grandhotel Pupp prepared a meal for the last Sunday of Advent and will also provide the Christmas Eve meal for the needy. The food will be delivered by the hotel staff to the charity’s distribution centers. The cooks decided not to serve the traditional Christmas Eve dish of fried carp and potato salad, opting instead for a warmer meal of hearty potato soup with root vegetables and bread.
The police are looking into a guesthouse that offers right-wing guests a discount, iDnes.cz reported on Wednesday. The penzion, which is located in the Krkonoše Mountains, first came to public attention earlier this year when its co-owner, Agnieszka Pallová, refused to allow President Miloš Zeman, who is a socialist, to stay there. She was questioned on Tuesday on suspicion of inciting hatred toward a group of persons and curtailing their rights and freedoms, the news site said.
Jiří Rusnok’s cabinet has approved a set of seven measures drawn up to help avoid future conflicts in and around socially excluded areas in the Czech Republic. The measures include changes in housing benefits, and an increased number of social workers and social services offered in high-risk localities and ghettos. The measures were supposed to include changes in social housing, but Regional Development Ministry failed to come up with the documentation. The new measures are meant as a response to the growing number of ghettos, populated mostly by Romanies, and an increasing number of violent protests by extremists and local citizens against the Roma minority.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico arrived in Prague on Thursday for a brief official visit. He met with the Czech prime minister, Jiří Rusnok; the two officials signed an agreement on mutual recognizing of university degrees between the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and discussed the situation of their countries’ Roma communities. The head of the Slovak cabinet also delivered a lecture at Prague’s Charles University during his visit.
A campaign by Saatchi & Saatchi Berlin, dubbed Days of Hope recruits homeless people to present the weather on European television stations across Europe. The campaign, aimed to raise awareness of the growing number of homeless on the Old Continent, has proved successful in many European states. This winter the Czech Republic joined in, giving Czech TV viewers a close up look at life out on the streets in freezing cold temperatures. One of the organizations involved in the effort is the Czech Salvation Army. I asked Pavla Vopeláková of its Czech
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