A Czech soldier who was shot during an attack on the Czech army base in Vardak province, Afghanistan, on Wednesday remains in very serious condition. The Army General Staff says the soldier, who is 32, is in the care of Czech doctors in hospital in Kabul, and it is unclear when it will be possible to transport him home. Several Czech soldiers have been injured in Afghanistan in the last month, in those cases due to mines and IEDs. To date, four Czech soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, most recently in late May.
President Václav Klaus has decided not to endorse the government’s “minor pension reform” bill; he will not, however, veto the bill, and will thus allow it to become law. In an article for the daily Mladá fronta Dnes on Thursday, the president wrote that he does not approve of the principle by which the amount of one’s pension would correspond more to the amount paid towards pension insurance. The minor pension reform bill was passed in response to a ruling of the Constitutional Court that ordered the government to fix pension payments to pension insurance paid. Mr Klaus writes that the justices are wrong if they consider the state an insurance company, and that the only thing that the state should guarantee is that society not suffer at the hands of those who do not prepare themselves for old age.
The European Court of Human Rights has rejected a complaint from former Communist prosecutor Ludmila Brožová-Polednová. The court found that the process, which sent the 89-year-old to six years in prison for the 1950 judicial murder of democratic politician Milada Horáková, was fair. The court said that the European Convention on Human Rights provides no protection for the liquidation of political opponents via judicial execution, and disregarded her argument that she was following the instructions of her superiors in the show-trial, noting that she was an experienced and educated lawyer. Brožová-Polednová was pardoned in December of last year by President Klaus on grounds of her advanced age and medical condition.
Czech violin virtuoso Josef Suk has died of a protracted illness at the age of 81. The grandson of the Czech composer of the same name and great-grandson of Antonín Dvořák, Josef Suk was one of the best-known names of Czech classical music and toured the world with many leading performers and orchestras. He was also a teacher, and for 30 years a soloist for the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. His recordings brought worldwide attention to Czech music and to the Czech violin school, won him numerous prizes and the title of National Artist.
Prague has withstood the world economic crisis better than almost any other European city, according to a study by the Dutch TNO institute. Only Paris and Lisbon fared better, and only marginally. During the worst part of the credit crunch, in 2009, Prague’s GDP fell by only 2.6% as opposed to roughly 4% elsewhere in Europe. Rome, Stockholm and Milan suffered worst that year, according to the study, with drops in GDP of 6.5% - 5.9%. Prague’s major advantage was apparently the high ratio of active citizens aged 15 to 64, which amounts to nearly 81% and is the fifth highest on the continent.
The Ministry of Finance is working on a proposal to create a national registry of bank accounts, allowing authorised institutions to determine how many accounts a person has with which banks. The proposal is intended as a means of combating fraud; police investigating financial crimes must currently acquire such information by a lengthy process of writing to all of the banks in the country. Such registries are used in several EU states and are also in preparation in many others.
A large majority of Czech fathers polled by a Labour Ministry project say they lack equality with mothers. According to the survey of 1147 father conducted by the "Táto, jak na to?" project – which aims to support active fatherhood – two thirds of father feel that the state discriminates against them in matters of post-marital custody. Regarding employment benefits for parents, 64% of the fathers polled said that they do not receive the assistance with family situations that women are offered. According to a third of them, Czech society itself does not see fathers as being equal to mothers, particularly where schools, doctors or government bureaus are concerned. The organisers of the project believe that fathers would be more involved in caring for their children in the absence of such perceptions.
The Ministry for Regional Development has announced it will distribute 30 million crowns to non-profit organisations for projects supporting sustainable development, equal opportunities for the handicapped and home education. Civic associations, foundations and other such organisations have until the end of September to apply for the funds, which can cover up to 70% of the project budget. More information is available on the ministry’s website.
The Czech Republic’s Foreign trade ended in May with a surplus of 14.4 billion crowns, which is a year-on-year increase of 3.2 billion CZK, the Czech Statistical Office reports. Preliminary data shows an increase in cross-border exports in May of 18.2% and 17.5in imports. Foreign trade turnover grew by 17.8% year-on-year to 470.6 billion – 61.2 billion more than in May of 2008, prior to the global financial crisis.
American actor John Malkovich has arrived at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, this time not as a film star but in the role of fashion designer, showcasing his latest menswear collection called Technobohemian. Mr Malkovich has been a frequent visitor to the Czech Republic, having been at the festival last year to receive the Crystal Globe for his contribution to world cinema, and appearing in this year’s Prague Spring music festival. On that occasion, an unknown thief stole several thousand crowns worth of personal items from his hotel room in Prague. Thursday’s invitation-only show will feature Czech actors modelling the designs.
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