Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has named his deputy Jiři Schneider state secretary for EU affairs. The appointment comes just days after the cabinet approved the establishment of an identical post under the prime minister. The TOP 09 party which is led by Foreign Minister Schwarzenberg fiercely opposed the move for fear of losing ground to the prime minister. Speaking in a televised debate on Sunday Minister Schwarzenberg rejected the suggestion that he had made the appointment to vex the prime minister, saying that while his own deputy would represent him in Brussels, the state secretary at government level would coordinate the country’s position on EU matters.
Close to a thousand people marched through the streets of Varnsdorf on Saturday calling for the authorities to take action against rising crime in the north of the country. The protest –one of many in recent days – was directed against the local Romany minority which is being blamed for the deteriorating security situation. In recent weeks the town witnessed several serious incidents of racially motivated violence and street wars between Romany gangs. The protesters headed for a Roma settlement in town, where around 150 Romanies were waiting, ready to defend their turf, but the police, which had received reinforcements, managed to keep the groups apart. The local authorities are struggling to deal with the growing ethnic tension and there are fears that neo-Nazis will abuse the situation for their own ends.
A thirty-six-year old woman who is believed to have killed her four children before attempting to commit suicide has been questioned by police. She was later transferred to a psychiatric clinic for a medical examination from where she will most likely be transported to a prison hospital. The case is being closely followed as one of the worst crimes in the country’s modern history. The mother is the prime suspect though it is still not clear what could have led her to brutally murder her four children aged between 2 months and 8 years. There is speculation that she might have been suffering from a serious case of post natal psychosis. Her live-in partner and the father of the youngest child, who came upon the scene of the tragedy, has suffered a mental breakdown and is in the care of doctors.
Data released by the Czech Statistical Office indicate that Czechs are saving money where they can, predominantly on food products. The sale of food products has consistently decreased with June statistics showing a 6.2 percent drop year-on-year. Economist David Marek from Patria Finance says consumers are clearly on a tighter budget, limiting themselves to staple goods and selecting cheaper brands. People are also spending less on petrol – a 3,3 percent drop year-on-year- and putting off the purchase of more expensive household appliances and electronics.
The 18th annual CIAF international aviation festival in the city of Hradec Králové attracted thousands of visitors over the weekend. The two-day event is the largest exhibition of military aviation technology in the Czech Republic with planes of all categories on display, from transporters to turboprops and jets from 11 countries. The highlight of the event was an air show by acrobatics pilots such as Breitling Jet stream from France, the Czech Republic’s Flying Bulls or the Baltic Bees Jet Team.
Hundreds of tourists gathered around Prague’s famous astronomical clock on Saturday night for an audio-visual programme video-mapping the highlights of Czech history on the clock tower. The show, similar to that organized last year to mark the clock’s 600 birthday, will become a regular feature over the next seven weeks and can be seen on Saturdays between 8 and 10pm. The oldest part of the Orloj, the mechanical clock and astronomical dial, dates back to 1410 when it was made by clockmaker Mikuláš of Kadaň and Jan Šindel, a professor of mathematics and astronomy at Charles University. Later, presumably around 1490, a calendar dial was added and the clock facade was decorated with gothic sculptures.
A newborn baby girl who was found in one of Brno’s baby boxes on Saturday is reported to be doing well. Doctors said the baby had been abandoned shortly after what was clearly a home birth. The baby has been named Eve, after the doctor who was on duty at the time of her arrival, and the authorities are waiting to see whether she will not be reclaimed by her biological mother before launching adoption proceedings. She is the 54th child to be placed in a baby box since they were introduced in the Czech Republic in 2005. There are now 44 of them in operation.
Toxicologists have warned people not to risk their lives by picking mushrooms they do not know. On average up to 500 Czechs end up in hospital every summer with more or less serious symptoms of mushroom poisoning. The national laboratory for toxins, says it now gets on average five specimen of mushrooms a day from hospitals requesting information about the type of poisoning involved. Mushroom picking is a national pastime in the Czech Republic with hundreds of people heading for the forest every day. Toxicologists say storing mushrooms in plastic bags, even for a few hours, can also result in serious health complications.
The Czech Republic’s national football team drew 2:2 with Scotland on Saturday in their Euro 2012 qualifier. Twice the Czechs came back from a goal down, the second time on a penalty kick. In the 90th minute, Michal Kadlec sent the ball just under the crossbar, giving the Scottish keeper no chance and allowing the Czechs to earn a point from the game. The draw means the Czech Republic still has a chance to finish second behind Spain in group I, with the possibility of qualifying for the European Championship in the playoff round.
A series of quakes reaching 3,5 points on the Richter scale were registered overnight in the west of the country. The quake’s epicentre was near the town of Nový Kostel which experienced smaller tremors about a week ago. No injuries or damages are reported. Seismologists say there may be more small quakes in the coming days, but they are not expected to exceed 4 points on the Richter scale or do serious damage. The area is known for minor seismic activity, though the current quakes are the strongest in 100 years.
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